Reviewed by Scott Jordan, Fri., June 23, 2006
The Essential Roy Orbison (Monument/Orbison Records/Legacy)
The diamond-pure voice from Vernon, Texas, turned heartbreak agony into everlasting ecstasy with early-Sixties classics "Crying," "Running Scared," and "It's Over," but Roy Orbison matched nay, transcended his early sock-hop sorrows with a magnificent late-Eighties comeback that found the Man in Black Glasses paired with ELO mastermind, producer, and Traveling Wilburys compatriot Jeff Lynne for the underrated Mystery Girl. Orbison's majestic four-octave voice and Mystery song selection resonated like a wiser, melancholy cousin of Muddy Wilbury's Full Moon Fever. The exclusion of "Handle with Care" and other Orbison-led Wilburys tracks is this 2-CD compilation's only fumble. Debut Fifties rockabilly hit "Ooby Dooby," 1965's cowboy trail ride "Ride Away," flamenco-tinged '67 ballad "Best Friend," sublime '80 Emmylou Harris country duet "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again," and the Stax horn treatment on '89's "The Only One" all document Orbison's devastatingly naked vocals in diverse musical settings. "Life Fades Away" an unlikely yet successful collaboration with metalhead Glenn Danzig shortly before Orbison's death in 1988 closes the procession on a bittersweet note. Dream, baby.