The Best Of The Soul Of Rock And Roll

Roy Orbison

Monument/Orbison/Legacy Records, 2008

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


The Soul Of Rock And Roll by Roy Orbison is a massive career-spanning four-disc, 107 song set. The Best Of The Soul Of Rock and Roll is an independent, single 18 song disc that is basically a sampler of the larger set. Obviously, if you are an Orbison fan or a fan of early rock ‘n’ roll, the big box set is essential. But if you would just like a sample of the Orbison sound or cannot afford the big box, then this disc will do just fine.

Roy Orbison was an important figure in the early development of rock ‘n’ roll. He began as a rockabilly singer on the Sun Label in the 1950’s along with such artists as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

It was his years recording for the Monument Label (1959-1965) that would bring him lasting fame. His smooth yet powerful tenor voice, which had a three octave range, placed dozens of hits on the American charts as well as in other countries. Such songs as “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Only The Lonely,” “Blue Bayou,” and “In Dreams” remain well known over forty years after their release.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

His late 1980’s work as a member of The Traveling Wilburys along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty, brought him a new generation of fans. Orbison died of a massive heart attack at age 52 on December 6, 1988.

The tracks that comprise The Best Of The Soul Of Rock And Roll are well thought out and span his career. The album as a whole, however, has a somewhat overall disjointed feel because of its nature, but the individual tracks are strong and form an excellent and enjoyable listen.

“Ooby Dooby” is from Orbison’s Sun Label career. Recorded in 1956, it is a frenetic up-tempo rockabilly tune. It presents the early period of Orbison’s career where he is searching for a musical style. “Mean Woman Blues,” recorded in 1963, has a similar rockabilly song structure but now Orbison has refined his vocals in a pop direction which makes the song and his sound much smoother.

Orbison remains known for his ballads. “Crying,” “Blue Bayou,” “In Dreams” and “It’s Over” give a good taste of his ballad style and vocal prowess. They all are smooth building songs that show the purity of his voice.

Two rare live songs are includedalso. “What’d I Say” from 1965 and “(All I Can Do Is) Dream You” from 1987 show that he could produce his songs live without any studio trickery. They also show that he had lost little vocal power in the 22 years between the performances.

Roy Orbison could also rock upon occasion. His biggest hit, “Oh Pretty Woman,” is instantly recognizable from the opening notes. “Working For The Man” remains one of my favorite Orbison songs. It is a story song with attitude that just bops along.

One of his late career hits is also wisely included. His duet with Emmylou Harris, “That Lovin’ You Feelin’ Again,” from the movie Roadie became a country hit and won a 1981 Grammy Award.

The Best Of The Soul Of Rock And Roll is an enjoyable journey through the career of a music legend. Fans and casual listeners will not be disappointed.

Rating: B+

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© 2008 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/Orbison/Legacy Records, and is used for informational purposes only.