The world’s greatest assemblage of A-list musicians began, believe it or not, as a B side. George Harrison originally recorded “Handle With Care” as the bonus track for the European release of “This Is Love.” When Warner Bros. deemed the song too good for a European-only release, Harrison was left with a great song in need of an album. Through a not-so-simple twist of fate, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty each agreed to lend their talents to a new album as the fictional Wilburys, whose name came from an inside joke between Harrison and Lynne regarding the trembling wilburys.
Harrison was the catalyst and the connection that held everything together, but The Traveling Wilburys was very much a democratic process. In most cases, one Wilbury would provide the song’s foundation and the rest would add their own lyrics, each taking a turn at the microphone. The entire album was completed in six weeks, soon surpassing Cloud Nine as a multiplatinum runaway success. “Handle With Care” and “End of the Line” may not have had any deep meaning, but they sure sounded like a lot of fun to make.
Shortly after the release of The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1, Roy Orbsion passed away. A video for “End of the Line” was made without him (an empty rocking chair with a guitar appears in his place) and “Not Alone Anymore” stands as a perfect swan song to a storied career. Two years later, the remaining Wilburys released a second, final album, cheekily titled Volume 3.
When all is said and done—and for half of the band, all has been said and done—none of the original players will be remembered for the music of The Traveling Wilburys, yet each will be remembered as a member of what must be the greatest (and humblest) supergroup of all time. Kudos to George in particular; unable to architect a Fab Four reunion, he gave fans a Fab Five that still stands as perhaps the most serendipitous supergroup in musical history.
Handle With Care (1988)
b/w Margarita + Handle With Care (extended). Released on 7-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, cassette, CD and 3-inch CD single on October 17, 1988 in the US and Australia (Wilbury, 7/4/2-27732), the UK (Warner Bros., W7732/TE/T/CD), Argentina (WEA, DFW 128) Canada (Wilbury, 92 77327) and Germany (Wilbury, 9211040) with picture sleeve; reached #21 on the UK charts and #45 on the US charts (charted on October 29, 1988 for 14 weeks). Also available on special edition 7-inch single in October 1988 in the UK (Warner Bros., W7732W) with picture sleeve variation and free sticker. Also released as one-track promotional CD single in 1988 in the US (Wilbury, PRO-CD-32 58). Re-released on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in November 1989 in the US (Wilbury/Warner Bros., 7-21867).
THE TRAVELING WILBURYS, VOL. 1 (1988)
Handle With Care / Dirty World / Rattled / Last Night / Not Alone Any More / Congratulations / Heading For The Light / Margarita / Tweeter And The Monkey Man / End of the Line. Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc on October 18, 1988 in the US and Australia (Wilbury, 25796-1/2), the UK (Warner Bros., WX-224W), Argentina (Wilbury, 8/90770), Canada (Wilbury/WEA, 92 57961), Colombia (Warner Bros., 23(1031)00083), Germany (Warner Bros., WX-224/925796-2), Mexico (WEA, LXWB-6787) and South Africa (Tusk, WBC-1652) with picture sleeve; reached #3 on the US (RIAA-certified 3X platinum record, won Grammy award for Rock Duo/Group) and #16 in the UK. Mexican elpee issued on brown vinyl. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2007 in the US (Wilbury/Rhino, R2 255036), in 2008 in the UK (Rhino, 79918) and on September 24, 2008 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-75452) with 2 bonus tracks.
Heading For The Light (1988)
b/w Rattled + Last Night. Released on 7-inch and three-track 12-inch single in 1988 in Germany (Warner Bros., 9212650).
Last Night (1988)
Released on CD single in 1988 in the US (Warner Bros., PROCD-333).
End of the Line (1989)
b/w Congratulations. Released on 7-inch, cassette and 3-inch CD single in January 1989 in the US (Wilbury, 27637/-4), Germany (Wilbury, 927637-7) and Japan (Warner, 10P3-6096) with picture sleeve; reached #63 on the S charts (charted on February 11, 1989 for 9 weeks).
Nobody’s Child (1990)
b/w Lumiere + With A Little Help From My Friends. Released on 7-inch and three-track 12-inch single in 1990 in the UK (Warner Bros., W-9773/T) with picture sleeve.
TRAVELING WILBURYS, VOL. 3 (1990)
She’s My Baby / Inside Out / If You Belonged To Me / Devil’s Been Busy / 7 Deadly Sins / Poor House / Where Were You Last Night? / Cool Dry Place / New Blue Moon / You Took My Breath Away / Wilbury Twist. Released on elpee and compact disc on October 30, 1990 in the US and Germany (Wilbury/Warner Bros., 26324/-2), the UK (Wilbury, WX-384), Colombia (Warner Bros., 23(1031)00140) and Japan (Warner, WPCP-4002) with picture innersleeve; reached #11 on the US charts RIAA-certified platinum record). Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2008 in the UK (Rhino, 79917) and on September 24, 2008 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-75453) with 2 bonus tracks.
She’s My Baby (1990)
b/w New Blue Moon. Released on 7-inch and CD single in 1990 in the UK (Warner Bros., W-9523) and Japan (Warner, WPDP-6251) with picture sleeve. Also released as one-track promotional CD single in 1990 in the US (Warner Bros., PRO-CD-4518).
Inside Out (1990)
Released as promotional CD single in 1990 in the US (Warner Bros., PRO-CD-4652).
Wilbury Twist (1991)
b/w New Blue Moon (instrumental), Cool Dry Place. Released on CD single in 1991 in Germany (Warner Bros., W0018CD).
THE TRAVELING WILBURYS COLLECTION (2007)
The Traveling Wilburys Volume One (expanded remaster) // Traveling Wilburys DVD // The Traveling Wilburys Volume Three (expanded remaster). Released on 2LP+DVD and 2CD+DVD on June 11, 2007 in the US (Rhino, R2 167804) and the UK (Rhino, 79978/79982); reached #9 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record) and #1 on the UK charts.