Title - 'The Ultimate Collection' [2LP Vinyl]
Artist - Roy Orbison
For those not in the know, and with that said, why on earth wouldn't you already know this, but the late, great Roy Orbison (also known by his nickname The Big O), was an American singer-songwriter and musician, best known for his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads.
Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top 40, including "Only the Lonely", "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman".
The rest, as they say, is history and so as much as its been said his career stagnated from 1965 through the entire 1970s, the recently-released, and truly INCREDIBLE Roy Orbison - The MGM Years 1965-1973 that was recently released was, well, a stunning 13 CD box-set. A collection that was a summation of his marvelous work completed during that time period with MGM Records, it will serve as a near-complete testimony to one of the greatest voices that the industry has ever heard.
That said, now we have the luxury of the just-released Roy Orbison – The Ultimate Collection now available as a single CD and as a double vinyl LP. Roy’s Boys LLC, the Nashville-based company founded by the sons of Roy Orbison to administer their late father’s catalog and safeguard his legacy, has teamed up with Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, to release this delightful musical treat; a lovely trip down memory lane, once again.
The 26-track anthology, which we kindly received for review on the always-lovely double vinyl LP set, spans four decades, from his start at Sun Records in the mid 1950s, all the way through his massive comeback in the late ‘80s. The collection chronicles Orbison’s work both as a solo artist and with supergroup Traveling Wilburys until his tragic death at the age of 52. Indeed, The Ultimate Collection marks the first time ever that any Roy Orbison compilation album has incorporated tracks from all of the aforementioned sources.
Side A - 1. 'Oh, Pretty Woman' 2. 'I Drove All Night' 3. 'You Got It' 4. 'Crying' 5. 'Only The Lonely' 6. 'In Dreams' 7. 'Love Hurts'
Side B - 1. 'Claudette' 2. 'Blue Bayou' 3. 'Dream Baby' 4. 'Walk On' 5. 'Falling' 6. 'Running Scared' 7. 'California Blue'
Side C - 1. 'Leah' 2. 'Mean Woman Blues' 3. 'Crawling Back' 4. 'Ride Away' 5. 'Too Soon To Know' 6. 'She’s A Mystery to Me'
Side D - 1. 'Blue Angel' 2. 'It’s Over' 3. 'Ooby Dooby' 4. 'Heartbreak Radio' 5. 'Not Alone Anymore (Traveling Wilburys)' 6. 'Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys)'
We begin with the massive international chart topper, the bouncy 'Oh, Pretty Woman' and work our way next into the darkly poignant 'I Drove All Night', a song written for Orbison by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. Funnily enough, and here's a little tidbit you might not have realized, but you may also recall the lovely Cyndi Lauper having a hit with the very same song also. Well, her unique version was recorded after, but released before the Orbison original.
Next up is the tremendous, yet sadly posthumous foot-tappin' single 'You Got It', from his 1989 solo comeback album Mystery Girl. Produced by ELO's Jeff Lynne, once recorded, later that year, Orbison died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Moving on and next up we have cuts back from when Orbison toured constantly both in the US and abroad, sometimes even headlining over the Beatles, the Top 10 hits 'Crying,' the staggered 'Only The Lonely' (complete with stunning orchestral backing), and 'In Dreams'.
From the Monument era we next get the slow-paced 'Love Hurts', which in turn is backed by a song, a very personal-to-him song taken from his celebrity-studded live television concert special "A Black & White Night". The song is 'Claudette', a pacey song written by Orbison about his first late wife, that had been a huge hit for the Everly Brothers.
The sea shore hip sway of 'Blue Bayou', also from his Monument era of recordings is next and is followed by one of my all-time Roy Orbison favorites, the compulsive head-noddin' Top 10 hit 'Dream Baby', a remastered 'Walk On' from his MGM years, the mid-tempo finger-snappin' beats of 'Falling' from his Monument years, and then the number one hit single 'Running Scared'. The beautiful, swayful 'California Girl' from his Mystery Girl album is a real delight to behold here to my ears, especially on vinyl, and it's backed perfectly by the Hawaiian vibe of 'Leah' from his Monument days. The vibrant, frenetic guitar work of 'Mean Woman Blues' from those Monument days is next, and is followed by the more sedate ballad 'Crawling Back' (remastered), 'Ride Away' (remastered), and the beautiful remixed ballad 'Too Soon To Know', all from those heady MGM years.
Another firm favorite of mine is the Johnny Cash-sounding (at times) 'She’s A Mystery to Me' (written by, which I actually previously didn't know, Bono and the Edge of U2), and that's followed by both the doo wop of 'Blue Angel' and the anthemic 'It’s Over', both from the Monument era. However, for me at the very least, the stand out gem of a musical find here on this double vinyl album is the brilliant rockabilly-flavored, Elvis-Presley-inspired 'Ooby Dooby', which Orbison recorded when under contract with Sun Records. Man, what a wonderful flashback to a time when nobody could have known what a legend this young man was gonna become. The radio pop of 'Heartbreak Radio' (from 1992’s King of Hearts album) is next, and the last vinyl album of the set comes to a brilliant close with tracks recorded with his beloved supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys, and on which he (primarily) took lead vocals - 'Not Alone Anymore' and 'Handle With Care'.
Indeed, their debut album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 went triple platinum, with both tracks included on what has since turned out to be a firm musical favorite in a lot of people's collections, of that have no doubt. Featured here on The Ultimate Collection, the first time any of the group’s songs have appeared on a Roy Orbison release, when talking about the very same recording, co-Producer (along with George Harrison) Jeff Lynne has since said, "It was my favorite thing I ever did.” That's nice to hear, Jeff, because it's also one of my very own personal favorites - and, on vinyl, gets played @ 100 times a year! Which, having now listened now to this brand new Roy Orbison - The Ultimate Collection double vinyl LP some 20 times thus far, is most likely going to run a close second to the Wilburys album here at the office!
FYI: The life story of the legendary Roy Orbison whose career and personal narrative were fraught with struggle, setbacks, triumph and tragedy is the subject of The Big O: Roy Orbison, now getting underway.
The Big O: Roy Orbison is the first Orbison Estate authorized dramatic musical biopic; the film is being produced by Marty Katz (The Great Raid, The Four Feathers, Reindeer Games, Titanic, Lost in America), Alex Orbison and Roy Orbison Jr. with Wesley Orbison serving as Executive Producer along with Chuck Fleckenstein and Ron Moore.
Alex, Roy Jr. and Wesley are the late icon’s surviving children whose Roy’s Boys LLC has overseen their father’s legacy in the years following the 2011 death of Barbara Orbison, the star’s widow and mother of Roy Jr. and Alex.
Upon revealing the project, expected for a 2018 release, Alex Orbison commented, “Our father’s life story has an undeniably cinematic quality to it. We feel that the telling of it is in extraordinarily capable hands with Bruce and Ray and the overall team will bring The Big O finally to the screen.”
Roy Orbison - The Ultimate Collection' [2LP Vinyl] Purchase Link