One more symptom of a low-rent culture that confuses fame with achievement is that just about any artist can get a box set. There was a time a career-spanning box set meant that you, well, had a career that had spanned something; it meant that you'd accomplished something. That's not exactly the case anymore.
Hearing that Sony BMG is set to release a Roy Orbison box set made me think about that because his is a career actually worthy of encapsulation.
Roy Oribison's The Soul of Rock and Roll will be released September 23 and will include 107 tracks spread over four discs, including 12 tracks never before released. Among the rarities and previously unreleased material will be a song from the final concert Orbison gave before his passing. Orbison passed away in 1988 at the age of 52.
The set will feature early material such as an early version of "Ooby Dooby" and a demo of "Claudette" and will also feature material from his work with The Traveling Wilburys and his "comeback" album Mystery Girl. Mystery Girl put Orbison back on the pop music map with the massive hit "You Got It," which Orbison co-wrote with fellow Wilburys Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne.
As part of the package, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Neil Diamond, Tom Waits, Dolly Parton, Lemmy Kilmister, Tom Petty, and Bonnie Raitt have all written tributes to the icon for the set's liner notes.
I actually don't own any of Orbison's solo records. All I have are the Traveling Wilbury records and every time I listen to one of them I think about how I should remedy that. There are a lot of unique voices in rock and roll and Orbison is clearly one of them. His voice is almost too pure and too pretty sometimes. I get chills when I hear him sing. The man had an incredible gift. I hope The Soul of Rock and Roll is able to present that gift in a befitting matter.