The Electric Commentary

Monday, May 15, 2006

Let's Rank the Wilburies*

It's a slow Monday, so we might as well rank The Traveling Wilburies. My list looks like this:

1. Bob Dylan
2. George Harrison
3. Tom Petty
4. Roy Orbison
5. Jeff Lynne

Some may quibble with putting Petty over Orbison, but I enjoy Petty's music more at this point. So, how would you rank the Wilburies, and why?

*Post inspired by The Simpsons, in an episode where Homer is attempting to feign interest in Lisa. In order to find out more about her he asks the following:

Who is your favorite Traveling Wilbury honey? Is it Jeff Lynne? What about your favorite cigar size? Is it "Robusto?" Is it?


  • That's actually a really tough thing to rank. I think we can all agree that Jeff Lynne is last. But the rest of those guys are all so awesome it's tough to put one above the other. Are we using there individual work as a guide or ranking them by their contributions to the Wilburies? I suppose my list would go:

    1) George (He's my favorite Beetle. I'd be insane if I would rank him ahead of John, Paul and Ring and behind any Wilbury)
    2) Tom Petty (I've seen him a bunch of times in concert and he's awesome every time. If he doesn't have the same amount of talent at Bob or Roy, he's more entertaining.)
    3) Roy Orbison (His contribution to the Wilburies is greater than Dylan's. They wouldn't be the WIlburies without him whereas we probably wouldn't even notice if Petty were to sing all of Dylan's lines. His voice is like butter.)
    4 Bob Dylan (The man is a fantastic song-writer. If he wrote every Wilburies song I'd move him up a bit but I juist don't know how much he contributed to the writing process. "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" has Dylan written all over it but I wouldn't want to guess much beyond that. However, Bob Dylan is a shitty singer. Once upon a time he was okay enough to get by but now he gets by on his legend.)
    5. Jeff Lynne (Who is Jeff Lynne?)

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 8:22 AM  

  • Who is Jeff Lynne? Who do you think produced the albums? Gave it the distinctive sound that it had?

    Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra and the Move, was also the producer for Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever, Roy Orbison's last album, producer of George Harrison's Cloud 9...

    Who is Jeff Lynne? Them's fightin' words.

    By Blogger James Wigderson, at 9:35 AM  

  • So James, would you have J-Lynne ranked above any other member?

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:07 AM  

  • None of them there people are Wilburys.

    I rank 'em as follows: Lucky, Nelson, Charlie T. Jr., Lefty, and Otis.

    Those latter-day Wilburys (Spike, Clayton, Muddy, and Boo) were all right, I reckon, but no substitute.

    By Blogger PRB, at 1:54 PM  

  • Purely by Wilbury-ness, Jeff Lynne is #1. Orbison #2. Harrison #3. Bob Dylan #4 Tom Petty #5.

    If you were to look at their careers and influence:
    Bob Dylan #1
    Orbison #2
    Harrison #3
    Jeff Lynne #4
    Tom Petty #5

    By Blogger James Wigderson, at 4:17 PM  

  • Orbison #1 forever. I don't care about who is #2, etc. The man was a genius, and we will not see his kind pass this way again. "It's over".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:30 PM  

  • Good point PRB. I'm a big fan of Volume 2 myself, but it's so darned hard to find.

    If I'm just ranking Wiburiness:

    1. George Harrison
    2. Tom Petty
    3. Bob Dylan
    4. Jeff Lynne
    5. Roy Orbison

    Harrison is the primary singer on my two favortie Wilbury tunes, "Handle With Care" and "End of the Line," and if memory serves, he was the instigator for the project. Petty's contributions are solid, as are Lynne's, if unspectacular, although his "Heading for the Light" is quite good. Dylan get's big props for the aforementioned "Tweeter" and "Congratulations" but is AWOL on a few group sings.

    I love Roy, and he may have contributed much behind the scenes, but his performance contributions are lackluster compared to the other 4, (in Wilburiness only).

    James, Lynne may be the coolest guy out there, but he's not Dylan, Orbison, or a Beatle, and I like Petty more. ELO is fine and all, but come on, they're more likely to appear at the Leine Lodge than at the Marcus.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 6:33 PM  

  • Whatever Paul. How can you say "Handle With Care" is your favorite song and then minimize Orbison's contribution. That song is nothing without the line "I'm so tired of being lonely..." Roy makes that song. Same with lots of other songs. Even if he isn't the lead, he makes them.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 7:52 PM  

  • Oh...
    PaulN. almost got it
    Swap four and five

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:53 PM  

  • Dylan is the only worth to remember

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:12 AM  

  • I love Jeff Lynne!
    Check out “Out Of The Blue” (Electric Light Orchestra, or ELO) and “A New World Record”.
    Maybe two of the best albums he has ever made.
    I also recommend his great, but underrated solo album Armchair Theatre.

    Jeff Lynne has been an inspiration for so many.
    Even Queen and Sweet got a whole lot of inspiration from good old Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra.
    He has jobbed with all of the Beatles-members (except John Lennon… sadly) on many of their solo albums.
    And now he is producing and writing for Tom Petty and using lot’s of money so we can listen to digitalremastred versions of classic ELO-songs.

    Who the hell is Jeff Lynne?
    A hell of a composer and a hell of a guy! ^_^

    -- Andy K. (from

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:23 PM  

  • Without Jeff Lynne, there's no Wilburys to begin with.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:34 PM  

  • I think this is mine:

    1 - George
    2 - Jeff
    3 - Tom
    4 - Roy
    5 - Bob


    George was the founder and the glue that hold the Wilburys together.
    Jeff was his right hand.
    Tom contributed more than Roy or Bob and he also provided certain spirit of joy and youth to the band.
    I love both Roy and Bob and I rank Roy over Bob because I think is more important to the Wilbury sound.

    I would have loved Ringo on the drums on any song. As a Wilbury´s cousin or something, he.

    By Anonymous Ricardo from Argentina, at 3:24 PM  

  • Mine is:

    1 - George
    2 - Jeff
    3 - Tom
    4 - Roy
    5 - Bob

    George's idea and the reason they were all able to work together was due to Jeff's amazing way of supporting and working with people and getting the best out of them. Mike Campbell from the Heartbreakers said of Jeff, "when we did that first record with Jeff Lynne, Full Moon Fever, that was an amazing time for me because it was mostly just the 3 of us, me and Tom and Jeff working at my house. Jeff Lynne is an amazing record-maker. It was so exciting for a lot of reasons. First of all, our band energy in the studio had gotten into kind of a rut, we were having some issues with our drummer and just kind of at the end of our rope in terms of inspiration - having a lot of trouble cutting tracks in the studio and getting inspired and try to make it happen. This project came along and really we were just doing it for fun at the beginning, but Jeff would come in and every day he would blow my mind. It was so exciting to have him and Tom come over and go, "OK, here's this song," and then Jeff would just go. I'd never seen this done before, he'd say, "OK, here's what were going to do - put a drum machine down. Now put up a mic, were going to do some acoustic guitars. Put up another mic, were going to do a keyboard. OK, here's an idea for the bass. Mike, let's try some guitar on this. I've got an idea for a background part here..." Sure enough, within 5 or 6 hours, the record would be done, and we'd just sit back and go, "How the fuck did you do that?" We were used to being in the studio and like "OK, here's how the song goes" and everybody would set up to play, and just laboriously run the song into the ground, and it usually got worse and worse from trying to get the groove and the spirit and trying to get a performance out of 5 guys at once. This guy walked in and he knew exactly how to put the pieces together, and he always had little tricks, like with the background vocals how he would slide them in and layer them, and little melodies here and there. Tom and I were soaking it up. Pretty amazing, a very exciting time, like going to musical college or something.
    With the drums, he'd go out and we'd put the mics up on the drums, and he'd walk out and he'd take the microphone over the drum and he'd turn it away from the drum facing the corner, and he'd go "OK, record it like that." Sure enough, 99% of the time he'd be right. We'd go, "Yes sir, Mr. Lynne." That's one way to make records" No Jeff no group here and albums sorry.. Tom, Roy and Bob all great vocals - George wanted Tom and Jeff wanted Roy and Bob came on board. Unfortunately a lot of people don't know who Jeff is and what he has achieved so this would be the only reason he would be ranked number 5 for mine. His importance to this group puts him up with George at the top of the list

    By Blogger Ivan Pali, at 3:09 AM  

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