One member down and he took the quality with him. Roy Orbison sadly passed before the chances of a Traveling Wilburys tour were aired. But it did not stop the supergroup, the quintet dropped to a quartet as the former members of The Beatles, The Heartbreakers, Electric Light Orchestra and a major collaborator of The Band pushed on through. They did and developed Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 3, a wavering follow-up to their fantastic debut piece. Pushing away from their charming, character-led country stylings and into a Petty-led harsher sound, the change of pace is not an issue for a band with no image, but it is a definite gear shift into generic rock tracks.
Nowhere is that clearer than on opener She’s My Baby, a flatlining rock gem that is as rough around the edges as it is dull from a lyrical collection. Had it been fun it would not be an issue. But the genericism and rounded mediocrity follow through and infect the rest of the album. Directionless and little of real, moving quality. An abundant collection on the first, a withering output for the second. Four members of a supergroup all pulling in different directions and not having a core member to rely on for some form of consistent guidance. Inside Out has each member working away at what makes their individual works enjoyable, and together it makes for a passable, noisy experience.
If You Belonged To Me is just a Dylan song with famous faces backing him – a solid song, but not the point of Traveling Wilburys. The Devil’s Been Busy is a light bit of fun and nothing more. These songs do not need to be great pioneers, but considering Handle With Care and End of the Line were titans of their work together, expecting something more than a sum of each member poorly strapped to each track was a surprisingly hard bar for the supergroup to vault. Boo-wop undertones on 7 Deadly Sins amount to nothing but are nice enough to have wash over once or twice before it tires itself out. Fairly empty country standards are spun around, and to think four of the greatest writers of their generation could come up with no better than the forgettable strikes of Poor House and New Blue Moon.
Disappointing but more for the lack of direction than anything else. Four musicians who clearly enjoy working together struggle to come up with either a direction or continuation of what came before. Underwhelming but enjoyable. If taken at its own independent values then Traveling Wilburys, Vol 3 is a fine piece with more than enough collaboration and playing style to give itself a nice bridge and build. Where Were You Last Night and Cool Dry Place provide a nice double that cements the style this fourpiece are headed for. A shame they never quite nail it, but more than the sum of its parts is often a problem for supergroups. For Traveling Wilburys, it is a sign that these four were ready to break apart from their passion project and head back to the humdrum realities of solo performances.