Music geeks had it good in 2000. That's the year Napster was at its peak, when digital bootlegs abounded and anyone with a high-speed Internet connection and a half a brain could stockpile some seriously choice tracks. While my cultural dolt of a college roommate downloaded the latest Dr. Dre and Eminem singles, I stuck to unreleased masterpieces and oddities, stuff like Pearl Jam's MTV Unplugged performance or Radiohead covering "Rhinestone Cowboy."
Being a big Dylan fan, I eventually came across a treasure trove of Traveling Wilburys rough cuts and outtakes. The sweetest finds were the George Harrison-sung "Maxine" and the Dylan ode to failed romance "Like a Ship." The songs sounded tinny. They were bare-bones, nothing but acoustic guitars. But they were gems nonetheless. Yesterday, the two tarcks were released officially as part of the long awaited Traveling Wilburys 2 CD/1DVD reissue, which includes all of Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988) and the curiously titled Traveling Wilburys Vol., III (1990), two albums that had been out of print for years.
The finished versions of "Maxine" and "Like a Ship" are satisfying, full of the Jeff Lynne luster â layered acoustic guitars, hand claps, background synths â that a listener expects on a Wilbury song. Of course, now that the tunes are readily available they've lost a bit of their charm. In a weird way, they make me nostalgic for those days when I would hurry home from the University of South Florida Tampa campus to our nearby apartment, where on a weeknight I'd spend 4-6 hours gobbling up music: old timey country, Beatles rarities, Dead concerts, two boxes of Dylan including an entire unreleased album of duets he did with Johnny Cash. While entire shows and ad hoc collections were downloaded onto my computer, I'd microwave another Red Baron, grab a fresh Bud, play my roommate in a game of Madden. Ah, those were the days.