Rock On!

When Roy Orbison died in 1988, people figured Del Shannon would replace him in the Traveling Wilburys, and no wonder: Del and Roy were two of the great voices of the pre-Beatles ’60s, with thrilling upper registers and a penchant for paranoid dramatics. But before that could happen, Shannon himself died. Rock On!, the album he was working on at the time of his death, was produced by Wilbury Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty’s guitarist Mike Campbell. Tracks like ”Lost in a Memory” and ”Callin’ Out My Name” suggest that the Wilburys with Shannon might have worked. Like Petty, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison, Shannon was an oddly distinctive singer. Since his falsetto was his strongest point, his range naturally suggested him as a replacement for Orbison’s high, lonesome yodels. Unfortunately, the bulk of the material and accompaniment here is no more than serviceable. The remakes of Del’s own ”I Go to Pieces” and the Tams’ ”What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am?” are swell for old fans, but mainly this set is more competent than inspired. B-

Rock On!
  • Music