Title - Roy Orbison 'The MGM Years' [13 CD][Box Set]
Artist - Roy Orbison
For those not in the know, and with that said, why on earth wouldn't you already know this, but the late, great Roy Orbison (also known by his nickname The Big O), was an American singer-songwriter and musician, best known for his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads.
Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top 40, including "Only the Lonely", "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman".
The rest, as they say, is history and so as much as its been said his career stagnated from 1965 through the entire 1970s, this incredible MGM Years box-set tells a different musical story. Roy Orbison - The MGM Years 1965-1973 is a 13 CD box-set that, basically, is a summation of that marvelous work completed during that time period with MGM Records.
Listening to these 13 CDs, well, the first thing that crosses my mind - being a true blue Audiophile - is how I truly wish I could have been listening to them all on newly-remastered 180-gram vinyl, to be quite honest. But, as that was not an option, and these CDs were here, ready to be listened to, I put them in, one after the other, and sat back to listen to them as if they were indeed freshly-cut vinyl.
1. There Is Only One ROY Orbison
2. The Orbison Way
3. The Classic Roy Orbison
4. Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson
5. The Fastest Guitar Alive
6. Cry Softly Lonely One
7. Roy Orbison's Many Moods
8. The Big O
9. Hank Williams The Roy Orbison Way
10. Roy Orbison Sings
13. MGM B-sides & Singles
Listening to them all, one after the other, can begin to feel like you've entered unto something that there is no going back on, that's for sure. His voice, his unmistakable vocal tone is timeless, which makes every single one of these tracks, on every single one of these albums, an experience all of its own. It's also, even if you are not a fan, an experience that should be undertaken by all lovers of when music was real. Nothing is over dubbed, nothing is highly accentuated; everything is as real, as honest as it was when he stepped into that recording booth each time, for each track, over each passing year.
As for the 13 albums, well, to truly review them, track-by-track would take forever, and you would skip through to the very end for the conclusion, regardless. That said, and in my humble opinion, Orbison's MGM recordings are some of the best he ever made. Again, in my humble opinion, Orbison cut his most creative and aesthetically satisfying albums between 1965 and 1970. True, the last three years of Orbison's contract to MGM (1970-1973) produced some less inspiring music, track that sound more like rehashes than anything stand out, creatively new, but even during that time, Roy cut some stellar singles and album tracks, overall, and in general, of course.
For those truly devoted fans of The Big O, Roy Orbison - The MGM Years 1965-1973 sequestered away amongst these 13 full-length albums is the long sought-after 'The Fastest Guitar Alive' soundtrack. In fact, as fans might well know, Orbison even starred in the film, so its inclusion in this box-set is an added bonus for everyone concerned. Also included is a brand new collection of 'B-Sides & Singles' that have never before appeared on a full-length Roy Orbison album.
FYI: One of the reasons for Orbison jumping ship to MGM was the promise of a movie deal. Eventually, only one flick was ever produced, and despite Roy pulling it off as an actor quite nicely, the plot of 'The Fastest Guitar Alive' verges on the dross that marred Elvis Presley's Hollywood career! A comedy-western set at the ending stages of the Civil War, it flopped and ended Roy's acting days!
Anyway, moving on, and back on topic, if you haven't figured this out yet, let me put it this way to you: Roy Orbison - The MGM Years 1965-1973 is the largest compilation of Roy Orbison music to date! Indeed, and I get this last note of Orbison chit-chat from a dear friend of mine, there is only one album missing from this time period - one that wasn't even made! You see, according to John Kruth's 'Rhapsody in Black: The Life of Roy Orbison', Orbison was planning to record a duet album with Otis Redding titled 'Black & White Soul', but the untimely and tragic death of the King of Soul ended that possibility right there and then, sadly. Still, it makes you think, just what it would have sounded like, contained within this what-would-then-be 14 CD box-set, doesn't it.
All 152 songs in this set were transferred from the original multi-track tapes at famed Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, and then mixed by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Chuck Turner at the Johnny Cash Cabin, with help from Roy’s son, Alex Orbison. They were then remastered by longtime Roy Orbison friend and GRAMMY®-winning engineer Richard Dodd. In order to make sure modern technology conveyed Roy’s original intent, they frequently compared their work to the original vinyl and its inherent warm sound.
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