The Soul of Rock and Roll


Among previous box sets honoring The Big O, three are significant: a 4-CD anthology (Columbia, 1988); a 4-CD official bootleg set (Orbison, 1999); and a 7-CD retrospective of his golden years (Bear Family, 2001).

The Columbia package (“The Legendary Roy Orbison”) begins with his work for Sun Records in the 1950s and stops just short of the singer-songwriter-guitarist’s comeback in the late 1980s. The bootlegs (“Roy Orbison: Authorized Bootleg Collection”), released by Orbison’s estate, are soundboard tapes of four concerts (’69, ’75 and two from ’80) that have been cleaned up as much as possible. And the Bear Family box (“Orbison”) is exhaustive within its 1955-65 confines.

Now comes “The Soul of Rock and Roll,” a magnificent joint effort by Sony’s Legacy label and Barbara Orbison, who has dedicated herself to keeping her husband’s music alive since his death of a heart attack in 1988 at age 52. Compiled by their son, Roy Kelton Orbison Jr., it’s the most all-inclusive package thus far: 107 songs spanning 15 record labels, from the Wink Westerners’ 1955 recording of “Hey, Miss Fannie” to “It’s Over” from his final concert.

The first disc covers the early rockabilly years, mostly drawn from Sun recordings. “Ooby Dooby” is here (twice), as are a demo of “Claudette” (written for Orbison’s first wife and initially released by the Everly Brothers as the B-side to “All I Have to Do Is Dream”) and a cover of Johnny Cash’s “You’re My Baby.”

Disc 2 shows the development of the artist’s rock-ballad style as he comes into his own as a songwriter, specializing in such emotional subject matter as loneliness, wanting, fear and hurt. Many of the songs feature cosmopolitan string arrangements underpinning his multiple-octave, near-operatic vocals, but occasionally a stripped-down blues (“Candy Man”) or country number (Cindy Walker’s “Dream Baby”) is included.

The third CD sees much incorporation of Spanish-style melody, sometimes subtle (“Ride Away”), sometimes overt (“Communication Breakdown”) and other times blatant (“Yo Te Amo Maria”). There’s also R&B (a live cover of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”); easy listening (the Emmylou Harris duet “That Lovin’ You Feelin’ Again,” from the movie “Roadie”); and laid-back soft rock (“Hound Dog Man,” an ode to Elvis from the much-maligned Muscle Shoals album, “Laminar Flow”).

The final disc focuses on Orbison’s renaissance decade, the ’80s, one that saw a lot of collaboration with other songwriters. It begins and ends with three-way co-writes with Will Jennings and J.D. Souther, while in between are stray contributions to movie soundtracks as well as songs composed with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan. The whole Traveling Wilburys thing — begat by chance through a perfect storm of events set in motion when Lynne (who already had started work on Orbison’s “Mystery Girl” and Petty’s “Full Moon Fever” albums) and Harrison were trying to come up with a third song for a European single from Harrison’s “Cloud Nine” — spurred so much creativity that Lynne was able to posthumously fashion Orbison’s “King of Hearts” from leftover master sessions and demos.

DISC 1: INTO THE 1950s
1. Ooby Dooby – The Teen Kings
2. Hey! Miss Fannie – The Wink Westerners
3. A True Love Goodbye – The Teen Kings
4. An Empty Cup And A Broken Date – The Teen Kings
5. Tryin’ To Get To You – The Teen Kings
6. Tutti Frutti – The Teen Kings
7. Advertisement: Overton Park Shell Concert
8. Ooby Dooby
9. Cat Called Domino
10. Go! Go! Go!
11. Rock House
12. Guitar Pull Medley: I Want You, I Need You, I Love You/I Was The One/That’s All Right/Mary Lou/You’re My Baby
13. You’re My Baby
14. Mean Little Mama
15. Problem Child
16. One More Time
17. You’re Gonna Cry
18. It’s Too Late
19. Sweet And Easy To Love
20. This Kind Of Love
21. Claudette
22. You Tell Me
23. Night Owl
24. Bad Cat
25. I Give Up
26. Love Struck
27. Baby Don’t Stop
28. Defeated
29. Love Storm
30. Almost Eighteen
31. With The Bug
32. Pretty One

DISC 2: INTO THE 1960s
1. Uptown
2. Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel)
3. Blue Angel
4. In Dreams
5. Running Scared
6. I’m Hurtin’
7. (I’d Be) A Legend In My Time
8. Love Hurts
9. Lana
10. Crying
11. Candy Man
12. Night Life
13. (They Call You) Gigolette
14. Let The Good Times Roll
15. Blue Bayou
16. Wedding Day
17. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)
18. Evergreen
19. Working For The Man
20. The Crowd
21. Leah
22. The Actress
23. Borne On The Wind
24. Falling
25. Indian Wedding
26. Shahdaroba
27. All I Have To Do Is Dream
28. Mama
29. Pretty Paper

DISC 3: INTO THE 1970s
1. Mean Woman Blues
2. What’d I Say (live)
3. It’s Over
4. Oh, Pretty Woman
5. Yo Te Amo Maria
6. Goodnight
7. (Say) You’re My Girl
8. Ride Away
9. Crawling Back
10. Breakin’ Up Is Breakin’ My Heart
11. Too Soon To Know
12. Communication Breakdown
13. Walk On
14. So Young
15. Blue Rain (Coming Down)
16. Big As I Can Dream
17. Pistolero
18. The Fastest Guitar Alive
19. Precious
20. Unchained Melody
21. Land Of 1000 Dances (live)
22. Blues Is My Mind
23. Born To Love Me
24. That’ Lovin’ Feelin’ Again – duet w/Emmylou Harris
25. Hound Dog Man

DISC 4: INTO THE 1980s
1. Coming Home
2. Waymore’s Blues
3. Oh Pretty Woman
4. In Dreams
5. Not Alone Anymore
6. You Got It
7. She’s A Mystery To Me
8. California Blue
9. A Love So Beautiful
10. (All I Can Do Is) Dream You (live)
11. Oh, Pretty Woman
12. Heartbreak Radio
13. You’re The One
14. Crying – duet w/k.d. lang
15. After The Love Has Gone
16. I Drove All Night
17. Wild Hearts Run Out Of Time
18. You May Feel Me Crying
19. Life Fades Away
20. It’s Over (live)
21. We’ll Take The Night

Total time: 5:05:54

External links
artist’s website