Dark glasses, darker voice…
Among the glowing tributes in this first full career retrospective, it’s Tom Waits who nails the Big O: “Part opera, part mariachi, part lonesome yodel and part Irish tenor via Texas.” From uncertain 50’s rockabilly for Sun, Roy Orbison found his niche with dramatic, mournful ballads for Fred Foster’s Monument, starting with 1960’s “Only The Lonely”.
He turned country music’s obsession with spurned lovers and born losers into pop perfection with hits like “In Dreams” and “Crying”. By 1965 his career was waning: a return to Monument for 1977’s overlooked Regeneration kept him in the game but it took the guidance of stellar admirers, notably Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and George Harrison to re-invent Orbison in the 80s. Nothing dinted Orbison’s raw emotionality, memorably evinced here on the un-issued demo “Precious”, from around 1968.
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