Almost twenty-five years have passed since music legend Roy Orbison passed away from a fatal heart attack. Orbison died on December 6th, 1988. Only the year before his passing, his hits collection, In Dreams: Greatest Hits was release to the masses. As the anniversary of Orbison’s passing nears, Legacy Recordings has re-issued that compilation of Orbison’s hits for a whole new generation.
When most audiences are asked if they know of any songs written by Orbison, the most common answer is his song, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman.’ But as this compilation reveals, Orbison wrote far more songs than the one. In fact ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ wasn’t Orbison’s song alone. Fans of this song will learn in the compilation’s liner notes that he wrote the song alongside Joe Melson. Listeners will learn that it wasn’t the only song which the pair wrote together, either. They also co-wrote other hits such as: ‘Only The Lonely’, ‘Blue Angel’, and I’m Hurtin’’ just to name a few. So what does all this have to do with anyone? It has everything to do with everything. So much of today’s music is being downloaded rather than bought. Simply downloading music without any liner notes takes away from the overall music experience provided by the physical object. Liner notes, especially in the case of this re-issue, serve to make the whole package something of a lesson in music history. And this compilation’s liner notes are proof of that. Listeners that buy the physical CD in store or order it will learn that along with his own hits, also included in this collection are his take on hits written by Claude De Metrius, and Wade Moore and Dick Penner. Trivia such as this is inconsequential to most audiences. But to those that are more interested in a song’s history, having this knowledge as a starting point makes an album’s liner notes that much more important to the overall presentation.
The liner notes included with In Dreams: Greatest Hits are just a part of what makes the entire presentation worth checking out. The songs themselves are just as much the star here as the liner notes. One of the most notable of the compilation’s songs is its opener, ‘Only The Lonely.’ This song was one of so many co-written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson. Orbison’s control over his voice as he sings, “That’s the chance you’ve gotta take/If you’re lonely/A heartbreak/Only the lonely” is incredible. It takes real talent and skill for a male to be able to hit a note as high as he does in this last line. And he exhibited both in this moment. Much the same can be said of his talent in ‘Blue Angel.’ Yet again, he hits those high notes. And he handles them expertly, without cracking even the slightest. The notes that he hits, most male vocalists today would be terrified to even attempt. To that extent, this and other songs such as ‘I’m Hurtin’ make this compilation all the more interesting for any oldies fan and fan of Roy Orbison’s music.
The songs co-written by Orbison and Joe Melson comprise most of this compilation. Audiences will note that the songs in question all seem to have a recurring semi-doo wop vibe about them. By contrast, songs such as ‘Working for the Man’ and ‘Claudette’ are quite different from the songs that Orbison wrote with Melson. Both ‘Working for the Man’ and ‘Claudette’ were written by Orbison alone. The prior of the pair is in simple terms, a working man’s song. It’s the type of thing one might expect to hear on the jukebox of a blue collar bar. Claudette on the other hand boasts almost something of a driving country western vibe with its guitar riffs and harmonica. One typically wouldn’t connect Roy Orbison to country western. So it makes for an interesting departure from the softer 1950s style material that makes up most of this record.
In the same vein as ‘Claudette’ are Orbison’s take on Claude De Metrius’ up-tempo blues opus, ‘Mean Woman Blues’ and Dick Penner’s ‘Ooby Dooby.’ This is about as far as Orbison could go from the sound that largely defined him. It’s a great change of pace for fans. That’s because it serves even more to exemplify the limits of Orbison’s talents. They show just how far Orbison might have been able to go had he not had that fatal heart attack. Sadly though, he did. Thanks to Legacy Recordings though, a whole new generation has these and so many other songs keeping his talents and memory alive with this record. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other Legacy Recordings releases is available online at http://www.LegacyRecordings.com and http://www.facebook.com/LegacyRecordings. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.