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Music Review: Roy Orbison – Crying (Re-Issue)

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One of the rock era's great vocalists took the spotlight recently as the Roy Orbison reissue project by Legacy Recordings began. The series led off with three of his classic Monument titles on August 8: Crying, In Dreams and Lonley & Blue. Outside of the release of numerous permutations of "The Best of Roy Orbison" in the 17 years since his death, this marks the first remastering of his classic albums from the 1960s. Crying was Orbison's second album for Monument, and it features the classic Orbison sound of haunting, operatic vocals surrounded by lush orchestral arrangements and lonesome lyrics.

Crying was released in 1962 featuring nine songs. Orbison co-wrote a few of them with Joe Melson with the rest being written by others. The title song, "Lana" and "Running Scared" became staples of Orbison's live performances, and the title track was named to Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." This new Legacy reissue adds four previously released songs that were recorded during the same time period as the songs on the album: "Candyman," "Let the Good Times Roll," "Dream Baby" and "The Actress." The sound quality on the reissue is excellent, and Orbison's voice benefits from the cleaned up recordings.

The original album's material, unfortunately, is a little uneven in terms of its quality. The title track, "Love Hurts" and "Running Scared" rank highly among Orbison's classic work, and have aged much better than one or two of the filler tracks on the album. "She Wears My Ring" — written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant who also penned classic hits like "Bye Bye Love" for the Everly Brothers — is an adolescent ode to the significance of a girl wearing a boy's ring, which is a simple and innocent romantic expression that would be rare to find in pop music today. Orbison's cover of "The Great Pretender, like some of the other tracks on the album, is pleasant but not definitive.

What makes the album classic is its expression of emotion — and in that respect, Orbison is almost without peer.  While some of the songwriting sounds a bit aged, the orchestration and vocal performances are outstanding.  Knowing that unlike his later work with the Traveling Wilburys, the recordings here were all captured in real time in a single take makes the performances even more amazing.

For those looking to complete a collection of Roy's early recordings, this set is essential. For the casual fan, there are more balanced and interesting titles available — though it must be noted that the added bonus tracks provide more quality material than the original track listing by itself.

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About JP

  • I love Roy Orbison, and have virtually every form of every issue, 45, LP, CD, the Bear Box, etc. But it is getting ridiculous for nearly every critic to call his singing “Operatic”. Roy Orbison was in no way operatic, nor did his music have any resemblance to opera. Critics should stop showing their ignorance of opera