THE BARGAIN BUY: The Essential Roy Orbison

 |   |  1 min read

Roy Orbison: Leah
THE BARGAIN BUY: The Essential Roy Orbison

With his extraordinary range, a catalogue of original songs which (like Arthur Alexander) told often told interior monologue stories, personal tragedies hidden behind dark glasses and a mystique enhanced by so few interviews, the great Roy Oribison was as unique in popular culture as Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Scott Walker.

Few would try to cover Orbison's classic songs (Pretty Woman, Crying, Running Scared, Leah etc) because his operatic reach and ability to inhabit the lyric was so singular.

Orbison's songs often threw you right into the centre of his narrative, the singer as hurt outsider, a man apart looking at the world. Pretty woman are walking past him, only the lonely know how he feels, he was alright for a while but now he's crying and running scared . . .

Oh yes, he goes out with the crowd but he's only playing the game, he knows its over and when he finds happiness it's only in dreams and then he awakes . . .

Although signed to Sun in his early days, Orbison (out of West Texas and bringing a little Tex-Mex into his sound) was never really part of the world that nurtured Buddy Holly (also from West Texas), Sun labelmates like Elvis and Johnny Cash.

He could certainly write songs that Presley and Cash could appreciate (Crying, Working for the Man, Blue Bayou) but string-enhanced dramatic works like Leah, Crying and It's Over were a world apart from his peers. They are masterpieces of pop miniatures. It was rare Roy song from his classic period that broke the three minute mark.

There was certainly that fallow patch before he re-recorded a number of his classics, became the centrestage star of the famous Black and White Night surrounded by Springsteen, Waits, Costello, Raitt and others paying homage and enjoyed a short renaissance with the Traveling Wilburys.

When The Big O died in December '88 his star was shining again.

JB_HZ_CHEAP_longHis was a singular career and across 42 songs on this double CD set -- from Oh Pretty Woman to his Crying duet with kd lang, but no Wilburys -- you can be reminded of his remarkable voice, songwriting art and storytelling.

And at just $10 from JB Hi-Fi stores here, that also makes it a damn fine Bargain Buy. 

For another Elsewhere article on Roy Orbison go here

Share It

Your Comments

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman - Apr 29, 2015

Hi Graham and thanks for the reminder. He was huge here in the 1960s and his voice really got to me. Like a lot of confused teens, I think I went inside his songs, those mini-operas you write about, and indulged my sense of isolation. But the sounds, the range, the emotion - he was a one-off. Cheers. Jeffrey.

post a comment

More from this section   The Bargain Buy articles index

THE BARGAIN BUY: U2; ZOO TV, Live From Sydney (DVD)

THE BARGAIN BUY: U2; ZOO TV, Live From Sydney (DVD)

Stadium shows like the recent Rolling Stones event at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium have become familiar enough for their massive side screens, great sound and integrated lighting effects (not to... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Lou Reed; Original Classic Album Series

THE BARGAIN BUY: Lou Reed; Original Classic Album Series

Because Lou Reed's solo career after the Velvet Underground was so erratic, this Bargain Buy series (five albums for $20) really is the way to go: at worst you'll get a classic album, something... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

FRANK ZAPPA RESURRECTED (2016): The floorboards creak and out come the freaks

FRANK ZAPPA RESURRECTED (2016): The floorboards creak and out come the freaks

The importance and impact of some musicians far outstrips the sales of their albums or concert tickets. The late Frank Zappa – who died in '93 at just 52 – was one of those.... > Read more

THE WHITEHALL MANDARIN by EDWARD WILSON

THE WHITEHALL MANDARIN by EDWARD WILSON

Consider how ripe the political pickings of the late 50s and early 60s are for anyone writing a spy thriller. There is cigar-chomping Castro in Cuba helming a people's... > Read more