Roy Orbison: The Classic Roy Orbison 1965-68 (LP)
As a singer/songwriter, Roy Orbison was in a dass by himself. Elvis Presley had a dynamic, exciting voice, but his songwriting talents were non-existent. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote some unforgettable popular musk, but Roy Orbison penned mini-operatic masterpieces and sang them in a voice that reminded people of Enrico Caruso and Mario Lanza. Roy's achievements as a songwriter become all the more impressive when you realize that they occurred at a time when most popular music writers were churning out unimaginative, monotonous songs using the standard verse-verse-chorus-verse formula.
The typical Orbison composition builds, slowly but surely, to an overpowering finale that assaults your senses and leaves you both exhilirated and emotionally destroyed. But as great as Roy's songwriting was, what really made his music special, even offer you had already heard it hun-dreds of times, was The Voice. Roy could sing songs that required a vocal range of up to two and one-half octaves. When you consider how often you hove heard popular singers butcher 'The Star Spangled Banner,' which 'only' requires a vocal range of one and one-half staves, you begin to realize how special Roy's voice was. (You also get an inkling as to why many of Roy's masterpieces have never been covered by other popular singers.)
The real magic of Roy Orbison's voice, however, lay not in its wide range, but in its stunning power. The some notes that singers like Bobby Vinton struggled to hit in a weak falsetto, Roy could hit at the top of his lungs. And when he did, he sounded so utterly magnificent that people seriously compared him to Caruso. Elvis Presley, on the other hand, simply called him 'the greatest singer in the world': The staggering array of tributes that appeared in Rolling Slone after Orbison's death proves that a lot of other major rock figures think Elvis Presley was right. Unfortunately, there ore music critics who have concluded that the great talents of Roy Orbison, which took the world by storm in 1960 with the release of 'Only the lonely;' suddenly disappeared in 1965 when, following the phenomenal success of 'Oh, Pretty Woman': Roy left Monument Records and signed a lucrative, long-term contract with MGM. Some of these critics have said that Roy's MGM albums were poorly produced and seriously inconsistent. Others hove said that the well-documented personal tragedies Roy suffered in the mid-1960s caused him to quit writing songs and reduced his roaring tenor to a meek shadow of its former self. The result, these critics say, was a dramatic drop in Roy's record sales. This certainly isn't very flattering to Roy, since it is tantamount to saying that he composed only a handful of good songs in his long career.
What's really unfortunate about these criticisms of Roy's MGM music, however, is that they are so blatantly false. In fact, the only true portion is the statement that Roy's record sales dropped dramatically in the mid-1960's. But this was certainly not because 'Oh, Pretty Woman' was his last great song. Rather, Roy's decline in popularity was due to four things that happened to music in the mid-1960c. Their names were John, Paul, George and Ringo. As anyone who was over the age of ten in 1964 knows, the Beatles exploded onto the music scene and dominated it like no one before or since. And from Meet The Bead. to Rubber Soul to Sgt. Pepper's, from 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' to 'Yesterday' to 'Hey Jude': they controlled the development of popular music. If other artists wanted to sustain commerical success, they hod to follow the Beatles'
stylistic lead-period. Roy Orbison refused to do so. And it was because of this commitment to his own style of artistic expression, rather than some mysterious decline in his sing-ing and songwriting skills, that Roy's superstar status came to an end.
During his first four years with MGM (the years covered in this collection), Roy actually wrote more songs than ever before. His first six albums for the label (There Is Only One Roy Orbison, The Orbison Way, The Fastest Guitar Alive, Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson, The Omsk Roy Orbison and Cry Softly Lonely One) contained 70 songs, of which Roy wrote or co-wrote 42, which is exactly 60 percent. For pur-poses of comparison, of the 67 songs Roy released on Monument from 1960 to 1965, he wrote or co-wrote 38, which is approximately 57 percent. It is also worth noting that the vast majority of Roy's MGM compositions were penned in collaboration with Bill Dees, the some person who co-wrote Roy's Monument classics, 'Oh, Pretty Woman' and 'It's Over'.'
When you have heard The Classic Roy Orbison, you will know all you need to know about the quality of Roy Orbison's MGM records. You will also realize that many of its songs are delightfully reminiscent of his Monument classics. Consider how good you felt listening to Roy's first major hit, 'Only the Lonely' a haunting ballad in which he effortlessly displayed his incredible vocal range while background singers song syllables of pure nonsense. Now listen to 'Cry Softly Lonely One,' and prepare for the some thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Consider 'In Dreams': aptly described by one musician as four or five beautiful melodies fused into a single song. Now listen to 'Crawling Back;' where the some sort of synthesis culminates in another gorgeous Orbison finale, with his voice soaring to magnificent heights. It can literally send chills down your spine. Consider 'Falling': a gentle love ballad with another powerful finale, courtesy of the famous Orbison tremolo—a tremolo so strong that you can actually feel the vibrations in his voice throughout your body. Now listen to 'It Takes One;' and prepare yourself for a slightly more subitle version of the same experience. Consider 'Crying': the jewel that is widely regarded as Roy Orbison's greatest song. 'Crying'combines o complex melody, powerful orchestration, and a vocal in which Roy's tenor soars to other-worldly heights. These elements come together to produce one of the most indescribably moving and beautiful endings in the history of popular music. Think about how you felt the first time you heard 'Crying': and then listen to 'Walk On' and prepare for a similarly melodramatic experience.
All of these comparisons don't mean that the songs in this collection correspond perfectly to Roy's greatest Monu-ment songs. You probably will not find any songs here that remind you of 'Oh, Pretty Woman': ' The Crowd': or 'Blue Bayou: By the same token, you won't find any songs in the Monument catalogue that remind you of some of the unique and magnificent songs on this disc, such as 'Ride Away': 'Too Soon to Know': and 'Crawling Back'.' Yes, these MGM songs there some of the attributes that made Roy's Monument recordings o musical treasure, but they are also great songs in their own right, songs which often show a different side of Roy Orbison.
You may wonder why some of the songs Roy released as singles for MGM were not more commercially successful. 'Ride Away:' for example, was Roy's highest chart record for MGM, but only managed to make it to No. 25. It opens with an acoustic guitar, then merges some of the best musical elements from both the Monument and Spector-styled production techniques. 'Crawling Back;' one of Roy's more subtle and understated pieces of musical drama, only mode it to No. 46. 'Breakin' Up Is Breaking My Heart;' a far more dynamic song, featured Roy returning to his familiar upbeat operatic form. This 1966 single was eventually one of the highest chart records for Roy at MGM, but still only made it to No. 31. 'Twinkle Toes;' a very uncharacteristic, go-go inspired song that exhibited Roy's stylistic diversity, barely crocked the Top 40, peaking at No. 39. 'Too Soon to Know,/ 'Communication Breakdown' and 'Cry Softly Lonely One' all have the magnificent Orbison touch, but none of them ever matched the sales of the Monument sides, either.
Beatles, Byrds, or Stones aside, it is very difficult to understand why some of these songs were not more commercially successful. This package of wonders was in production before Roy's untimely passing. For the many Orbison fans all over the world, it will be only a small sampling of the MGM catalog, which contains more than double the number of songs Roy released for Monument. When you consider how substantial Roy's output on the MGM label was, you will hunger for more of the operatic grandeur that characterizes both the songs in this collection and the songs from Roy's Monument yea's. In the meantime, relish the petals in this collection. They will certainly remind you why so many people cherish the music of Roy Orbison. Simply stated, Roy was a man with on incredible gift...one that he lovingly shared with us all. And no one who was affected by that gift, no one who felt it deep down in their innermost sanctum, will ever forget it. Jim Fahey
Article properties: Roy Orbison: The Classic Roy Orbison 1965-68 (LP)
|Orbison, Roy - The Classic Roy Orbison 1965-68 (LP) LP 1|
|03||Breakin' Up Is Breakin' My Heart|
|05||Too Soon To Know|
|07||Cry Softly Lonely One|
|09||I'm In A Blue, Blue Mood|
|11||Big As I Can Dream|
|13||It Takes One (To Know One)|
Born on 23 4th 1936 in Vernon, Texas.
Died on 6.12th 1988 in Tennesse.
The man with the unmistakable voice began as a rockabilly singer, then went as a staff composer (at Acuff - Rose) to Nashville. From his contract with Sun Records, he bought himself free, signed with Monument, where he began the assembly line production fate pregnant pain ballads. Among his classics and evergreens include 'Crying', 'Only The Lonely', 'Dream Baby', 'In Dreams', 'It's Over' and of course 'Pretty Woman' (a total of 29 US-Hits 1956-1967).
1966 accident his wife Claudette deadly on a motorcycle, only two years later both Orbison's sons died in a house fire. On 25 3 1969 Roy married in Nashville, the 19 year old Barbara Anne Wellhonen from Bielefeld (two common sons: Roy Kelton Jr., born in 1970, and Alexander, born 1974). During the 70 years it has been quiet around the superstar, who had to undergo a dangerous heart surgery.
End of the 80 he received a new contract with Virgin, again bubbled the hits, and Orbison was next to George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty solid Roy ORBISON Mm member of the Traveling Wilburys. At 6:12. In 1988, he died 'in Nashville a heart attack, his designated successor at the Wilburys, Del Shannon, shot himself.
Orbison's only German-language single is the mega-Rarität- both original titles were übersungen of the production line of Wolf Kabitzky on 06.09.1963 in Hamburg Teldec studio in the Easter Road with German lyrics. 1987 was recorded 'The Big O' in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
From the Bear Family Book - 1000 pinpricks of Bernd Matheja - BFB10025 -
Historians love to write about how Roy Orbison got started in the music business on the wrong foot, being forced to cut rock 'n' roll until he found his niche with the sort of orchestrated ballads that would cement his place in the Hall of Fame.
While it is true that Roy himself preferred the softer songs and the pop ballads, and certainly that is where he found his greatest chart success, one thing cannot be denied—Roy Orbison's veins pulsed with the blood of a rocker. Although he always denied it, he was great at rocking, and left behind some of the best-loved rockabilly tracks of all time.
This collection is perhaps the first of its kind, the first to collect all of Roy's best 'rockin'' material from the different periods in his career—from the early days at Sun Records and at the Norman Petty studios, to the short-lived days as an RCA Victor artist in the late 50s, and the few but fertile rockers that Roy cut in his golden days for Monument Records in the early 1960s.
When an artist finds such massive success with a radically different style such as Roy Orbison did with his pop hits in the 60s, it is easy to write off early efforts with a dismissive wave of the hand. In fact, in doing the research for these liner notes, I was shocked at how nearly every single book or article about Roy Orbison regurgitated the same details about Roy's early rocking period, usually in a few short paragraphs. The thought occurred to me that had Roy not gone on to record those massive pop hits, he would have had the sort of attention paid to his rockabilly sides as the other greats of Sun Records—Carl Perkins, Billy Lee Riley, Sonny Burgess, Warren Smith, and others who have had every minute detail of their 1950s activities researched and obsessed over time and again.
The fact of the matter is that Roy was another teenager in the mid-1950s who traveled to see Elvis Presley play and got swept up in the fury—women, fame, attention, and Roy's own admission that his only goal was "a Cadillac and a diamond ring by the age of 21."Whether or not he was teen idol material mattered not—for deep in his soul Roy felt the calling of wild bop music known as rock 'n' roll.
Much has also been written about how unlikely a star Roy Orbison was. True, back in the 1950s as it is today, looks mattered over talent in the pop business, and Roy Orbison was not exactly an attractive man. Born albino, he suffered the eyesight problems of albinism, and in fact in the early days (before he wore glasses on stage) many thought Roy was blind because he had to be led up to the microphone. But he dyed his hair a deep jet black, bought himself the finest hepcat clothes that money could buy, equipped himself with top-of-the-line equipment (teenage Roy had a Les Paul 'black beauty' guitar—the most expensive solidbody Gibson made—and a Ray Butts Echosonic Amp like Scotty Moore—also the most expensive custom-ordered amplifier one could own at the time), and made up his mind that he was going to be a rock 'n' roll star, looks be damned.
In the music business, there has always been a great divide between the gifted and the determined, and Roy was both. The determination paid off—in fact the stubborn Roy stuck at it through high and low times throughout his 40-year stint in the music business. How many artists can say they started off with a hit on their first record, then sank so low as to eat rolled up balls of cornmeal and water (as Roy did between his Sun days and the pop hits), found top 40 success and made a million dollars, lost his wife to a motorcycle accident and two sons to a house fire, then wound up getting inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and having a top 10 hit just as he died? The story of Roy Orbison is a story of perseverance and dogged determination more than anything else.
West Texas is precisely the sort of place to breed a determined young man like Roy Orbison. Hot, dusty, and flat—these are the only goodthings that can be said about a place like Wink, Texas, where Roy was raised. Born in April 23, 1936 to hard working parents (Roy's dad Orbie Lee was a rigger in the oilfields), Roy was the classic outcast, a subject that later permeated his hits like Only The Lonelyand In Dreams.
Roy had a good head on his shoulders, though, and quickly found that while he wasn't good at football and hard, menial labor, he was good at drawing and singing. Perhaps the most telling picture of his early years is a photo of Roy posed in front of a very large blackboard mural. Roy had created an elaborate Christmas drawing, which apparently was so well received that the entire school was taken to view his creation. In the photo, the huge mural dwarfs the diminutive Roy, who stands beaming from ear to ear, his eyes barely visible through his thick coke-bottle glasses. Roy had found that he could use his talents to gain acceptance and praise from others, even if he didn't fit in with the football players and oil riggers.
Roy's musical talents surfaced early on as well, and by his early teens was leading a local aggregation called the Wink Westerners, a group that eventually turned into the Teen Kings. The group began by playing all the country & western hits of the day, with Roy being particularly knocked out by Lefty Frizzell's voice. As was the norm of the day, the group also found itself having to play pop standards like Moonlight Serenadeand Stardust. All that would change the day that Elvis Presley blew through West Texas like a hurricane, changing everything in his path.
The details of exactly where and when Roy saw Elvis for the first time are murky, but it's generally accepted that Roy had heard about the noise Elvis was making in the music world, and in fact his father had told him of seeing a Presley show that he deemed "terrible."Roy made up his mind to see what the fuss was all about, and went to see Elvis play, either at the Big D Jamboree in Dallas or at one of the many shows Elvis played across West Texas in 1954 and 1955.
It's now hard to imagine a time when such things were so shocking or life-changing, but when Roy recounted seeing Elvis for the first time, he remembered Elvis spitting out his chewing gum on stage, breaking guitar strings, talking "with the coarse diction of a truck driver,"rolling around on the floor while singing, and causing a near-riot in the crowd between turning the ladies on and ticking the men off in the process.
Like thousands of other teenagers all over the country, Elvis' music, looks and attitude represented something that their generation could latch on to and call their own. In no time at all, the Wink Westerners were doing their own interpretation of hillbilly bop and looking at getting a piece of the Presley pie for their very own.
The group made some line-up changes, most notably adding rhythm guitarist Johnny 'Peanuts' Wilson to the line-up, who brought with him a healthy love for the new rock 'n' roll music (and later would cut the classic single Cast Iron Arm.) After a spell during which Roy and drummer Billy Pat Ellis went to North Texas State College in Denton, the whole group moved to Odessa, where they all attended junior college together, and changed their name from the Wink Westerners to the Teen Kings. It wasn't long before the group made its first recording, an acetate demo of a song that Roy had learned from two students at North Texas State named Wade Moore and Dick Penner. The song was Ooby Dooby,and although it was a simple song with nonsense lyrics, Roy had seen Wade and Dick make crowds go crazy with the tune.
The demo session was intended as an audition for Columbia Records. Columbia saw no future with the band, but A&R man Don Law did give Ooby Doobyto Sid King & the Five Strings to record, who released it on Columbia to little fanfare (these early Orbison demos of Ooby Doobyand Hey Miss Fanniecan be found on the Roy Orbison box set on Bear Family, BCD 16423).
Around this time, Roy and the Teen Kings had caught the eye of local impresario Weldon Rogers, who agreed to put out a Teen Kings 45rpm record as soon as they had something recorded. The group then traveled to the other notable studio in the region, Norman Petty's Studio in Clovis, New Mexico, where they re-cut Ooby Doobyand a new flip side, Tryin' To Get To You, which they had learned from Elvis' live shows (one report has Roy owning a pre-release acetate of Elvis' version). The two numbers were released on the tiny Je-Wel record label, an acronym that stood for the financial backer's daughter Jean Oliver and Weldon Rogers, who handled the music and promotional side of the label.
The Je-Wel record took off locally, selling hundreds of copies and catapulting the Teen Kings to local fame. The record made so much noise that another local impresario, Cecil Holifield, notified Sam Phillips of Sun Records that the Je-Wel contract was not legally binding, with Orbison and the other boys under the age of 21. When Holifield and Sam Phillips threatened legal action against Je-Wel Records, the Teen Kings were released from their contract and given instructions to come immediately to Memphis to record for Sun.
In the rapidly moving waters of the day, songs could break overnight, and just as easily be forgotten. Sam Phillips knew this, and brought the group to Memphis as fast as possible to re-cut Ooby Doobyyet again, and capture the momentum that the Je-Wel record had promised. When the group arrived in Memphis, Sam rushed them into the studio and explored their potential as new rockabilly hitmakers. The group re-recorded Ooby Doobya total of four times, but Phillips felt they hadn't gotten a good recording of the song, and in fact wound up calling Weldon Rogers seeking to lease the Je-Wel master. This after threatening legal action against him only a month earlier! Weldon offered to sell the Je-Wel master for $1100, but Sam decided to go with the first take the boys had laid down at the Sun Studio instead.
For a flip side, the band came up with a new rocker, Go Go Gowhich was a scorching rockabilly mover that has become one of the 'standards' in the rockabilly song repertoire to this day, though usually called Down The Line, the title that Jerry Lee Lewis gave it when he re-cut the song a year later for the flip side of Breathless.
One thing that should be pointed out regarding all of the early rockabilly sides that Roy Orbison and the Teen Kings recorded is that Roy played all the lead guitar parts himself. If nothing else, Roy established himself as one of the great rockabilly axemen, cutting solos that were as tough sounding and biting as any of his contemporaries. Few know that when they hear that classic intro to Go Go Gothat it's Roy himself tearing it up on the guitar! The band also recorded another couple of takes of Tryin' To Get To Youat the first Sun session, but Sam chose the two rockers (and picked Go Go Goas the flip to ensure his own publishing interests) and rushed Ooby Doobyout as Sun 242 as quickly as possible. The single did very well, selling up to 200,000 copies by some reports, and Roy Orbison became a star for the first time.
Roy's tenure at Sun has been rehashed in Orbison biographies many times over. According to Orbison, he kept trying to get Sam Phillips and his in-house producer 'Cowboy' Jack Clement to listen to his ballads, which he felt were his forte. If you believe everything you read, Phillips and Clement forced Orbison to record rock 'n' roll material against his will, while he tried in vain to convince them that he was a ballad singer. Again, according to lore, Orbison eventually showed them with a giant"I told you so"when he scored numerous top ten hits with his ballads in the early 1960s.
Like a lot of music history, it all makes for a nice story. But human accounts differ from the recorded material—and for that matter photographs—from his time at Sun.
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