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Roy Orbison – The Ultimate Collection album review

The late star’s son curates the first career-spanning collection of hits.

Roy Orbison
Credit: Sheila Rock / Orbison Archives
Roy Orbison - The Ultimate Collection

Credit: Sony Music

Roy Orbison’s life and career were cut cruelly short when he died of at heart attack aged 52 in 1988. At the time his death was attributed to his intense work schedule with speculation that working too hard contributed heavily. Coming up to 30 years since Orbison passed, his son Alex has curated the first-career spanning collection of music in partnership with Sony Music. The Ultimate Collection features 26 tracks taken from across 27 studio albums, 4 live albums and over 60 singles.

The Ultimate Collection spans the start of Orbison’s career in the mid 50s at Sun Records through to his resurgence in the late 80s. It also features work from his time as part of The Traveling Wilburys. The album opens with perhaps Orbison’s most recognisable hit Oh, Pretty Woman that was originally released in 1964 and experienced a surge in popularity thanks to being included in the Julia Roberts movie Pretty Woman.

What you’ll likely learn as you listen to The Ultimate Collection is that you’re familiar with many more of Orbison’s songs than you thought you were. Posthumous releases such as You Got It and I Drove All Night ended up being among his biggest hits here in the UK. In fact I Drove All Night was originally intended for Orbison but popularised by Cyndi Lauper. Orbison’s version was recorded the year he died and eventually released in 1992.

The earliest song on the collection is Ooby Dooby, which was originally the B-side to Tryin’ to Get To You in 1956. The song became a single in its own right that same year and was Orbison’s first hit. As you listen to The Ultimate Collection you realise just how many genres and styles Orbison touch upon. Only the Lonely (Know How I Feel) touches on doo-wop, In Dreams is a bluesy ballad, Love Hurts is a power ballad, and Falling incorporates country rhythms.

One of Orbison’s best songs is the emotive Crying, which features one of the star’s most powerful vocals and mixes country with soft rock. The song has been covered by many people over the years including k.d. lang and Vonda Shepard.

The Traveling Wilburys get a look in at the end of the collection with Not Alone Anymore and Handle With Care. Those two tracks feature a more modern rock sound compared to much of Orbison’s solo material. It’s a fitting way to round out an album full of great moments.

The Ultimate Collection is a timely reminder of just what a musical force Roy Orbison really was. He may have emerged during the rise of Elvis Presley but he quickly established his own sound thanks to the unique and distinct quality of his voice. If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to Orbison’s extensive back catalogue then The Ultimate Collection should be your starting point.

Track listing: 1. Oh, Pretty Woman 2. I Drove All Night 3. You Got It 4. Crying 5. Only The Lonely 6. In Dreams 7. Love Hurts 8. Claudette 9. Blue Bayou 10. Dream Baby 11. Walk On 12. Falling 13. Running Scared 14. California Blue 15. Leah 16. Mean Woman Blues 17. Crawling Back 18. Ride Away 19. Too Soon To Know 20. She’s A Mystery to Me 21. Blue Angel 22. It’s Over 23. Ooby Dooby 24. Heartbreak Radio 25. Not Alone Anymore (Traveling Wilburys) 26. Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys) Record Company: Sony Music Release Date: 28th October 2016


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