Lonely And Blue (Reissue)

Roy Orbison

Monument/Legacy, 2006


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Every once in a while, a music label gets it right.

Roy Orbison’s greatest hits have been released over and over again in every form imaginable. Lately, any Orbison concert that surfaces is released on CD, but here Monument/Legacy decided to reach back into the Roy Orbison catalog and release on CD his first three albums for the first time.

Orbison had assuredly one of the best voices in rock history, though time has not been as kind to him as it has to his Sun labelmates Elvis and Johnny Cash. Beginning his career on the legendary label in the mid-50s, Orbison released two singles for RCA in 1959. Switching to the Nashville-based Monument label in late 1959, he would release his first album, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Lonely And Blue, in 1960.

Included are his first three Top 40 singles co-written by Joe Melson, who would form a lasting creative relationship with Orbison. As a writing team they would produce hundreds of songs.

“Only The Lonely” became Roy Orbison’s first major hit and would set the tone for many of his best songs to come; you remember it by the slowly building vocals that can't seem to go any higher, but then hit another registry. “Blue Angel” is a midtempo ballad featuring vocals with minimal instrumental backing that emphasizes the purity of Orbison’s voice. “I’m Hurtin” is also here, though the ballad is not as strong as some of the other tunes here.

At this point in his career Orbison did not have enough original material to fill a whole album and so fell back upon the practice of the day by covering popular hits. He does a good interpretation of “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” namely because it’s interesting to hear Orbison’s upper registry as opposed to Gibson’s country bass. "I’d Be A Legend In My Time” is basically filler, but Orbison could pull off singing “Row Row Your Boat” and make it sound good.

The old Everly Brothers song “Bye Bye Love” is just okay, but the country standard “Cry” was made for Orbison’s voice. Gene Pitney’s “Twenty-Two Days” was at best an odd choice.

Lonely And Blue contains four bonus songs. Only the pop standard “Uptown” adds anything to the overall quality of the album. Orbison takes the song in a rockabilly direction and is a unique interpretation of a song that has been recorded thousands of times.

It is nice to see Lonely And Blue finally rescued from undeserved obscurity. The album set the table for Orbison to establish himself as a powerful vocalist with a unique sound, and this is a very credible first effort as well as an excellent place to visit a young singer at the beginning of his career.

Rating: B+

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© 2007 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Monument/Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.