Roy Orbison: A Love So Beautiful

Roy Orbison’s vocals backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Roy Orbison’s sons – Roy Jr., Wesley and Alex – have done much to preserve and expand their father’s legacy. They’ve overseen reissues of Roy Orbison’s MGM catalog and an expanded thirtieth anniversary version of the Black and White Night concert film, released the first-ever issue of 1969 album One of the Lonely Ones, and wrote a new biography. Their latest offering grafts classic Orbison vocals onto new, classical arrangements, multiplying the vocalist’s operatic flights with the power of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This is producer Nick Patrick’s third such creation, having pioneered this concept with Elvis Presley’s If I Can Dream and The Wonder of You.

Although there is certainly a marketing angle to this release, there is also a great deal of thought in the conception and artistry, and the execution rises well above pure commercialism. The strings of Orbison’s original hits pointed the way, and these full orchestral arrangements fill out the emotional images drawn by Orbison’s soaring vocals. Patrick’s arrangers have studied the original records and leveraged many of their percussion and melodic motifs. The results remain familiar while also feeling freshened up; they don’t always have the raw impact of Fred Foster’s original productions, but neither do they stray so far away as to lose the connection.

Some tracks fare better than others. The intro to “It’s Over” offers hold-your-breath drama, “Running Scared” reaffirms the song’s basis in Ravel’s “Bolero,” and expanded strings on “Blue Angel” and “Love Hurts” add lushness and power to the originals. On the other hand, “Oh, Pretty Woman” seems to diminish the original’s wonder and yearning, and the vocal on “Dream Baby” doesn’t quite sit in the pocket. Later material is given ELO-styled rock treatment that’s less effective than Jeff Lynne’s original productions. As with most covers projects, this one won’t have you tossing out your singles and albums, but for fans who’ve listened to these songs a thousand times, it’s nice to hear something new in the familiar. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Roy Orbison’s Home Page

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.