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Sings Lonely and Blue

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Album Review

Finally, Roy Orbison gets the CD remastering treatment he deserves. For those who bought the big three-disc box a decade ago and were appalled by the shoddy sound, these reissue discs (Sings Lonely and Blue, In Dreams, and Crying) have a couple of reasons for picking them up. The first is the music itself. Sings Lonely and Blue was an album featuring a couple of singles rounded out with filler. Whether this was intentional or not makes no difference; in the end, the original 12 cuts here are stellar. Here is Orbison's fine-as-silk pop voice, filled with all that cloudy, foggy darkness swirling inside it, singing "Only the Lonely," "Bye Bye Love," "Cry," "Blue Avenue," "Blue Angel," and "I'm Hurtin'," just to name a few. The production elements are beautiful, too, with the Anita Kerr Singers backing him and whirling strings that stroll along with Roy's rock & roll croon. Featured are Floyd Cramer on piano, Boots Randolph on saxophone (check his solo in "Blue Avenue" that runs counterpoint to the strings), Bob Moore on bass, and Jerry Byrd on pedal steel (on cuts like "Cry"). Only Orbison could make a record drenched in syrup feel like a spooky film noir tearjerker. Sings Lonely and Blue is an early masterpiece, as Orbison was in full control of his gifts as a singer. Fred Foster's production may have been standard Nash Vegas for the time period, but Orbison's voice and songs (Orbison and Joe Melson wrote or co-wrote seven of the 12 tracks here, Don Gibson wrote a couple, and Gene Pitney wrote "Twenty-Two Days") carry the track selection into the shadowy dark of risky emotions. Check Orbison's read of Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You," and see if he doesn't take back what has always been recorded as a saccharine tune and claim it hard for rock & roll. These new editions also contain bonus cuts, and there are four here: the original 45 version of "Uptown" is included (proving Orbison could rock with the best of them), as are B-sides "Pretty One," "Here Comes That Song Again," and a great read of Pitney's "Today's Teardrops." Amazing.


Born: 23 April 1936 in Vernon, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Although he shared the same rockabilly roots as Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison went on to pioneer an entirely different brand of country/pop-based rock & roll in the early '60s. What he lacked in charisma and photogenic looks, Orbison made up for in spades with his quavering operatic voice and melodramatic narratives of unrequited love and yearning. In the process, he established rock & roll archetypes of the underdog and the hopelessly romantic loser. These were...
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Sings Lonely and Blue, Roy Orbison
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