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Essential Roy Orbison

The Essential Roy Orbison

by Roy Orbison

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To the wealth of Roy Orbison anthologies add this ambitious two-disc overview that spans the artist's career from Sun to Virgin, with the indispensable Monument recordings naturally forming the heart of the collection. Less weighty than the four-CD box set The Legendary Roy Orbison and more comprehensive than Rhino's


To the wealth of Roy Orbison anthologies add this ambitious two-disc overview that spans the artist's career from Sun to Virgin, with the indispensable Monument recordings naturally forming the heart of the collection. Less weighty than the four-CD box set The Legendary Roy Orbison and more comprehensive than Rhino's excellent For the Lonely: 18 Greatest Hits, Essential packs Disc 1 with the legendary recordings that earned Orbison his rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whereas the second disc offers a well-considered retrospective of the post-Monument years. Disc 2 leans heavily on the fine late-'80s Virgin recordings, which teamed Orbison with producers Jeff Lynne and Bono (the latter being the one who seemed to understand Orbison best at the time) while adding interesting tidbits from the underappreciated MGM years. Also included are a couple of selections from the star-studded "Black & White Night Live" extravaganza, when Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Tom Petty were among a wealth of notable Orbison acolytes to join the backing band; the lovely, lilting duet with Emmylou Harris, "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again," from the soundtrack to the justifiably forgotten Roadie; "Coming Home," an eerie, brooding, string-enhanced cut from the Class of '55 album that reunited Orbison with his Sun labelmates Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis (none of whom are on this cut); powerful remakes of "In Dreams" and "Running Scared" that fed a resurgence of interest in Orbison's work, spurred by David Lynch's Blue Velvet; and the "In Dreams"-indebted melodrama, "Life Fades Away," co-written with Glenn Danzig and produced by Rick Rubin for the Less than Zero soundtrack. To paraphrase Gloria Swanson's memorable line in Sunset Boulevard, Roy Orbison's still big; it's the music that got smaller.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Roy Orbison has been in such need of a comprehensive, career-spanning compilation like Legacy's 2006 double-disc The Essential Roy Orbison that it's especially frustrating that it falls short of the mark. Not counting Bear Family's exhaustive 2001 set, which gathered everything Roy recorded between 1955 and 1965, including alternate takes, it is the first multi-disc Orbison compilation since 1988's four-disc box The Legendary Roy Orbison, which was released in the midst of his remarkable comeback that peaked the following year with the posthumous comeback Mystery Girl, which arrived too late to be part of Legendary. So, Orbison's catalog truly was missing a set that spanned from "Ooby Dooby," his first hit for Sun in 1956, all the way to his last charting single, 1992's "I Drove All Night." Essential attempts to do that, touching on every phase of his career -- the early rockabilly for Sun in the '50s, his cinematic hits for Monument in the early '60s, the cult classics for MGM in the late '60s, his '80s comeback -- over the course of 40 tracks. It gets a lot right, particularly on the first disc, which has most of the big hits from "Ooby Dooby" to 1964's "Oh, Pretty Woman," all presented in chronological order. Where things start to go wrong is on the second disc, where the comp suddenly abandons all pretense at chronological order, opening up with four cuts from Mystery Girl (including the hits "You Got It" and "She's a Mystery to Me"), before doubling back to the '60s for five MGM singles -- "Ride Away," "Crawling Back," "Best Friend," "Communication Breakdown," and "Walk On" -- then proceeding to the '80s, first with the Emmylou Harris duet "That Lovin' You Feeling Again" from the Roadie soundtrack, and then with re-recordings of "Running Scared" and "In Dreams," two '60s masterworks that are only available here in these solid but inferior remakes. The jumbled chronology results in a bit of a disconcerting listen, since the production styles don't comfortably sit together, but that would be easier to forgive if "Running Scared" and "In Dreams" were present in their original versions; without them, Essential isn't quite the concise, comprehensive collection it aspires to be. It's a major flaw, but not necessarily a fatal one, since the remainder of the set does offer his biggest hits -- "Only the Lonely (Know How I Feel)," "Candy Man," "Crying," "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)," "Leah," "Blue Bayou," "It's Over," and "Pretty Paper" among them -- plus a good sampling of his lesser-known work, all in good fidelity. But it comes so close to being truly definitive that the few flaws in selection and sequence stand out all the more.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Roy Orbison   Primary Artist,Guitar,Background Vocals
Floyd Cramer   Piano
Hank Garland   Guitar
Jackson Browne   Background Vocals
Rita Coolidge   Background Vocals
Elvis Costello   Guitar,Background Vocals
Steve Cropper   Guitar
George Harrison   Guitar
Jeff Lynne   Bass,Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Tom Petty   Guitar,Background Vocals
Bruce Springsteen   Guitar,Background Vocals
Tom Waits   Guitar
James Burton   Guitar
Steve Gibson   Guitar
Dewey Martin   Drums
Scotty Moore   Guitar
Mike Campbell   Guitar,Mandolin
Jim Keltner   Drums
Grady Martin   Guitar
Bill Pursell   Vibes
Bobby Wood   Keyboards
Joe Chemay   Background Vocals
Steven Soles   Background Vocals
Alex Acuña   Percussion
John Rainey Adkins   Guitar
Anita Kerr Singers   Background Vocals
Dennis Belfield   Bass
Benmont Tench   Piano
Bono   Guitar
Barry Booth   Piano
Harold Bradley   Guitar
Boudleaux Bryant   Guitar
T Bone Burnett   Guitar
Kenny Buttrey   Drums
Gene Chrisman   Drums
J.R. Cobb   Guitar
Ray Cooper   Drums
Glen D. Hardin   Piano
Linda Dillard   Background Vocals
Ray Edenton   Guitar
Bobby Emmons   Keyboards
Howie Epstein   Bass
Gene Morford   Background Vocals
Jim Haas   Background Vocals
Buddy Harman   Drums
Jim Horn   Saxophone
Jon Joyce   Background Vocals
Rodney Justo   Guitar
Jerry Kennedy   Guitar
Jack Kennelly   Bass
Mike Leech   Bass
Paul Leim   Drums
Tommy Morgan   Harmonica
James Morrow   Mandolin
Wayne Moss   Guitar
Robert Nix   Drums
Carole Parks   Background Vocals
Dean Parks   Guitar
Larry Paxton   Bass
Boots Randolph   Saxophone
Brent Rowan   Guitar
Billy Sanford   Guitar
Jerry Scheff   Bass
J.D. Souther   Guitar
Henry Strzelecki   Bass
Ron Tutt   Drums
Ian Wallace   Drums
Johnny Wilson   Guitar
David Woodford   Saxophone
Reggie Young   Guitar
Billy Pat Ellis   Drums
Charlie McCoy   Harmonica
Michael Utley   Keyboards
Fred Carter   Guitar
Bob Moore & His Orchestra   Bass
Larry Byrum   Guitar
Paul Garrison   Drums
John W. Greubel   Drums
Jerry Arnold   Drums
Bill Dees   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Joe Tanner   Guitar
David Briggs   Keyboards
Phil & Debi Jones   Drums
Bill Gilmore   Bass

Technical Credits

Jeff Lynne   Producer,Audio Production
Roy Orbison   Composer,Producer
Mike Campbell   Producer,Audio Production
Brian Ahern   Producer
Bono   Producer,Audio Production
B. Bryant   Composer
T Bone Burnett   Producer,Audio Production
Fred Foster   Producer,Audio Production
Will Jennings   Producer
Chips Moman   Producer,Audio Production
Barbara Orbison   Executive Producer
C.Q. Price   Composer
Wesley Rose   Producer,Audio Production
Rick Rubin   Producer
J.D. Souther   Composer
Jim Vienneau   Producer,Audio Production
Chet Flippo   Liner Notes
C. Walker   Composer
Sam Phillips   Producer,Audio Production
Michael Utley   Producer
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Augusto Labrador Velez   Packaging Manager
Bill Dees   Composer
Joe Melson   Composer
Bob Jones   Art Direction
Dick Penner   Composer
W.A. Jennings   Composer
B. Ross   Composer
T.C. Kelly   Composer
David "Damonsta" Lynch   Producer
Wade Moore   Composer
D.W. Evans   Composer
David Briggs   Producer,Audio Production

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