The All Time Greatest Hits Of Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison

Monument, 1972

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Roy Orbison’s career can be divided into a number of distinct phases. His Sun label years of the 1950s found him as a country/rockabilly singer and a stable mate of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis.  During the 1970s, he was a victim of inferior material as he slipped from the public consciousness. Near the end of his life, he had a career revitalization both as a solo artist and a member of the Traveling Wilburys.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It was during the 1960s however, while recording for the Monument label. that he created one of the most memorable group of songs in American music. This music has been rereleased many times and in a number of formats, but The All Time Greatest Hits Of Roy Orbison remains his definitive statement, as it eliminates most of his weaker material.

The 20 songs that comprised the original album are a primer course in the now mostly forgotten art of creating a hit single for AM radio play. Every song is between two and three minutes and has a hook that makes it immediately memorable.

Orbison was a master of the ballad form that built to a crescendo and then kept on going. “Running Scared,” “Only The Lonely” and “Blue Bayou” all soar to places very few voices have ever traveled.

His up-tempo material is likewise fueled by his voice. He rocks his way through “Mean Woman Blues” and “Working For The Man,” while “Dream Baby” is one of the smoothest vocals on record. His signature song, “Oh Pretty Woman,” is a combination of all his best elements.

Two of his most unusual performances are also memorable. His interpretation of Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” has an intimate feel, while “Shadaroba” is almost Middle-Eastern in approach.

While Orbison’s career lasted almost 40 years, it is the material contained on The All Time Greatest Hits Of Roy Orbison that captures his essence. It remains a wonderful peek into some of the best music of the 1960s.

Rating: A-

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