Roy Orbison

Mystery Girl Deluxe (Sony Legacy)

Texas Platters

Memories run both warm and sad for the posthumous comeback by Texas' most operatic rock & roller. The melancholy comes naturally: Mystery Girl came out nearly two months to the day after Roy Kelton Orbison of Vernon died from heart failure on Dec. 6, 1988, at the age of 52. David Lynch utilizing Big O classic "In Dreams" for Blue Velvet and the Traveling Wilburys showcasing him with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Tom Petty kicked cobwebs off the Texan tenor's career in no time flat. Then he was gone – with a Top 5 LP and Top 10 single in "You Got It." The Mystery Girl Deluxe edition, augmented by the usual brace of bonus cuts (including one new song, "The Way Is Love," featuring the singer's sons backing him on an unfinished cut) and a making-of DVD, reiterates the album's greatness in the face of otherwise mitigating circumstances. Fifth Wilbury and producer Jeff Lynne became notorious for making anyone he touches sound like his band ELO – tons of strings, massed acoustic guitars, and a Danelectro baritone axe twanging away over the top like Duane Eddy taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque. Then factor in this being recorded in the Eighties, the worst decade ever for record production. Kids: Stay away from cocaine, compressors, and gated reverb when mixing. A Bono-produced demo of his contribution "She's a Mystery to Me" hints at the greatness these songs demonstrate minus the gloss, while also underlining the strength of the material via Orbison's command in delivering them. You can't lose with writers like Elvis Costello ("The Comedians") and Tom Petty (co-writer, with Orbison and Lynne, of "You Got It") trying to measure up to a back catalog filled with "Running Scared" and "Only the Lonely." Even rockabilly Billy Burnette, co-writing "(All I Can Do Is) Dream You," manages a rocker ready for insertion between "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "Dream Baby." As immortalized by that otherworldly, multi-octave voice, Mystery Girl remains simply brilliant, a triumph framed in tragedy – like all of Roy Orbison's hits.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Roy Orbison
Rock & Roll DVDs
Roy Orbison
The Last Concert, Black & White Night (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, Dec. 13, 2013

Texas Platters
Roy Orbison Reissue
The Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964) (Record Review)

Jim Caligiuri, June 3, 2011

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Tim Stegall
From Revolution to Entertainment in <i>We Are Fugazi From Washington, D.C.</i>
From Revolution to Entertainment in We Are Fugazi From Washington, D.C.
Chronicle writer Joe Gross goes documentarian for the hardcore pioneers

Dec. 8, 2023

The Riverboat Gamblers' <i>Something to Crow About</i> Turns 20
The Riverboat Gamblers' Something to Crow About Turns 20
The album that made Austin's apex punks earns anniversary vinyl remaster

Aug. 11, 2023


Roy Orbison

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle