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Rock - Released May 21, 2015 | Legacy Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released November 3, 2017 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released May 21, 2015 | Columbia Nashville Legacy

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Rock - Released November 16, 2018 | Legacy Recordings

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Pop - Released October 22, 2007 | Orbison Records - Legacy

Roy Orbison's comeback started in 1986, when David Lynch used "In Dreams" for a pivotal sequence in his masterwork Blue Velvet. So mesmerizing was Dean Stockwell's pantomime of the 1963 hit that Orbison soon became in demand. He re-recorded his hits for a collection naturally called In Dreams, he gave a star-studded concert called Black & White Night, and then he began work with ELO leader Jeff Lynne on a comeback album. The duo tabled the album to join the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, a collaboration with Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan that turned into a surprise smash in 1988. Once that record began its run up the charts, Lynne and Orbison completed the album that became Mystery Girl, but the record didn't come out until February 1989, a few months after Roy's tragic death. His passing colored the reception of the record, helping turn it into a genuine hit -- it peaked at five on Billboard's 200 and two in the U.K. and went platinum in both countries -- and while his death may have helped boost sales, it's likely Mystery Girl would've been a success anyway. Orbison, unlike any of his '60s peers, was an actual hot property at the end of the '80s, and he surrounded himself with collaborators who cared enough to showcase him at his best. Lynne is the best known of these and his contributions are strong, although perhaps a bit too redolent of the Baroque pop that became his trademark at the turn of the '80s: they're big, bright, and bold, slathered in harmonies and guitars, their over-production obscuring the songs' simple charms. "You Got It," the hit from the record, perfectly captures this characteristic, but so do the other Lynne contributions "A Love So Beautiful" and "California Blue," the latter in particular a very nice evocation of Roy's early-'60s balladry. "In the Real World," a song co-written by Will Jennings and co-produced by Heartbreaker Mike Campbell along with Orbison and his wife Barbara, is in the same vein, acting as an explicit sequel to "In Dreams," while "Windsurfer" touches upon a California pop Roy rarely attempted, and "The Only One," co-written by his son Wesley, evokes a nice southern soul groove. The two showy collaborations with U2 ("She's a Mystery to Me") and Elvis Costello ("The Comedians") garnered headlines at the time but are a shade florid -- Costello's melodrama edges out Bono & the Edge, because it respects pacing -- but T-Bone Burnett's "(All I Can Do Is) Dream You" is the real surprise, a nifty resuscitation of Roy's early rockabilly sides for Sun. The fact that all involved found a way to get a bit of swing into this attractive, overwrought pop illustrates just how handsome the whole endeavor is: it's designed as a graceful coda to a legendary career and, amazingly enough, it succeeds. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1977 | Legacy Recordings

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Pop - Released April 22, 2011 | Monument - Orbison Records - Legacy

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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Legacy - CBS - Sony

The best-recorded Roy Orbison live disc ever issued, taken from the soundtrack of the HBO concert from the 1980s with VIP guests like Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello. This was a sort of magical video, and the performances are splendid, along with the good feelings involved. On the other hand, the performances are extremely reverential to the established studio versions of the songs (all of the hits are here), and intended to mimic them, so this isn't quite the same as a live album as it would have been done back when. The pity is that neither Monument nor MGM ever taped any complete concerts by Orbison from the 1960s, and all that remains are TV appearances from Europe. ~ Bruce Eder

Pop - Released March 28, 2006 | Monument - Orbison Records - Legacy

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Country - Released May 21, 2015 | Legacy Recordings

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Pop - Released April 29, 2014 | Monument - Orbison Records - Legacy

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Pop - Released February 24, 2017 | Legacy Recordings

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Pop - Released October 22, 2007 | Orbison Records - Legacy

Although Roy Orbison's album Mystery Girl was issued eight weeks after his death on December 6, 1988, it was apparently in finished form and thus only technically a posthumous release. Orbison's widow Barbara says she has been asked frequently since "whether Roy had recorded enough material for one more album. The answer is yes," she replies in her liner notes to King of Hearts. An examination of the album's contents puts qualifications on this simple affirmative. The ten tracks include Orbison's Grammy-winning remake duet of "Crying" with k.d. lang from 1987, for instance, as well as the original demo of "Careless Heart," a song featured in its finished form on Mystery Girl. There is also a cover of the Cyndi Lauper hit "I Drove All Night." The previously unheard recordings include sessions produced by T-Bone Burnett, Barbara Orbison, George Massenburg, Jeff Lynne, and Don Was, among others, apparently at different times during the '80s. Barbara Orbison acknowledges that sessions were held after Orbison's death to add overdubs to unfinished recordings and demos. So, that simple "yes" is really fairly complicated. That said, this collection of leftovers from various sources is not bad at all. It certainly isn't near the quality of Mystery Girl, but, employing some of the same musicians and producers, it has much the same sound. If the material isn't of the same caliber, that's to be expected. And tracks like "Crying" and "I Drove All Night," if they pad the album out, also bring up its overall quality. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released June 26, 2015 | Monument - Legacy

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Rock - Released December 4, 2015 | Roy Orbison P&D

Roy Orbison left Monument for MGM Records in 1965, not long after "Oh, Pretty Woman" gave him his second number one single in 1964. He did not see those heights again during his stint at MGM, but it wasn't for lack of trying. During those eight years, he released 12 full-length albums -- another, One of the Lonely Ones, was rejected in 1969 and wasn't unearthed until 2015 -- and a clutch of non-LP singles, all rounded up and released in this 13-disc box set, The MGM Years 1965-1973 (One of the Lonely Ones is not part of the box). Demon put this material out as a series of two-fers in the mid-2000s, but The MGM Years trumps those CDs by offering each album as a mini-LP in a cardboard sleeve, while adding a disc of B-Sides & Singles, plus a nice thick booklet filled with memorabilia and justifications for a rocky patch in Orbison's career. After a few modest hits -- "Ride Away" and "Breakin' Up Is Breakin' My Heart" made the Top 40 in 1965, "Twinkle Toes" just barely cracked that bar in 1966 -- Orbison dropped off the charts completely but continued to cut records designed with a crossover in mind. The only question was, crossover to what? On these 12 albums, Orbison usually keeps his focus on the middle of the road but he occasionally glances over to country, cutting full album tributes to Don Gibson and Hank Williams, records that wound up livelier than the soft, staid pop albums that constitute the bulk of his catalog. Often, Orbison seemed to be chasing trends that came to a conclusion two years before he headed into the studio. During the swinging year of 1966, he cut string-laden pop that feels targeted at supper clubs; he filmed a cheapo Western at the height of psychedelia; he grappled with Elvis' '68 comeback in 1970, and by the time his contract closed in 1973, it feels like he's just coming to terms with the rise of Glen Campbell. Certainly, this slight time warp couldn't have helped with his commercial fortunes, and time hasn't necessarily been kind to these LPs, either: often, they feel like ill-considered product, the work of talented individuals who couldn't quite make sense of rapidly shifting fashions. This makes the box interesting, of course -- failed commercial endeavors carry a fascination because of their flaws -- and there are a handful of albums that do work (Hank Williams the Roy Orbison Way, The Big O, Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson, Cry Softly, Lonely One), but taken as a whole, this box feels like a series of compounding detours. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Rock - Released February 10, 2009 | Monument - Orbison Records - Legacy

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Rock - Released October 1, 1967 | Roy Orbison P&D

Cry Softly, Lonely One had a tremendously convoluted recording history, interrupted as it was for work on two other projects (including the shooting and soundtrack of The Fastest Guitar Alive) and not released until 1967. That was sad because that album caught Orbison firing on all cylinders in his best voice ever, and with Joe Melson backing him vocally on the classic Monument sides with a killer array of songs -- from the opener, "She," across to the title track by way of "Communication Breakdown" -- had this record come out in 1964, it might well have charted high behind any of those songs, or the more rhythm-driven "Girl Like Mine." In late 1967, however, the album was an anachronism (the other irony is that, had it come out 18 months later, it might have ridden the same roots rock wave as Elvis Presley's Memphis albums, or Joe South, to success). Some of it, such as "That's a No No," was a true throwback to an earlier pop/rock era, but most of what was here was a great showcase for Orbison's classic sound as it had evolved, oblivious to the musical trends around him (and at least he never tried to emulate the psychedelic sounds of the period in the way that the Everly Brothers did on their live album). ~ Bruce Eder
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Country - Released December 20, 2018 | Cult Legends

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Rock - Released December 4, 2015 | Roy Orbison P&D

It's difficult to say exactly what Roy Orbison was doing with the Memphis album, although one wishes he'd done another album's worth of material like it. On one level, it shows his rock & roll batteries recharged with the opening number, "Memphis, Tennessee." But then it moves on to more familiar sentimental country-pop territory of the kind that Glen Campbell had been charting with and filling his albums with for a few years -- and after that comes a hot, beat-driven, chorus-laden, big-sounding number. Further down the line is a carefully understated interpretation of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" that shows how less can be more with a voice like Orbison's, and then there's the pop/rock country "Run the Engines Up High," which incorporates some heavy, rock-style fuzz guitar, and a version of "I Fought the Law," complete with phased drums, that is as good as any you'll ever hear this side of Bobby Fuller's single. Perhaps this was intended to be Orbison's answer to the pair of albums that Elvis Presley had generated out of Chips Moman's American Studios in Memphis in 1969-1970, except that Orbison didn't need the "comeback" -- he hadn't squandered time and years on bad movies (except one) and bad soundtrack songs; he just needed to sell some records, which this didn't really do. So what we have here is Orbison veering very successfully between rock & roll, country, and pop, with excellent production by the singer and Joe Melson. Reissued by Edsel Records in 2004 as part of a two-CD package with killer sound. ~ Bruce Eder

Rock - Released March 30, 2018 | PDR

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