Roy Orbisonâ€™s sons – Roy Jr., Wesley and Alex – have done much to preserve and expand their fatherâ€™s legacy. Theyâ€™ve overseen reissues of Roy Orbisonâ€™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 vocalistâ€™s operatic flights with the power of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This is producer Nick Patrickâ€™s third such creation, having pioneered this concept with Elvis Presleyâ€™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 Orbisonâ€™s original hits pointed the way, and these full orchestral arrangements fill out the emotional images drawn by Orbisonâ€™s soaring vocals. Patrickâ€™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 donâ€™t always have the raw impact of Fred Fosterâ€™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 â€œItâ€™s Overâ€ offers hold-your-breath drama, â€œRunning Scaredâ€ reaffirms the songâ€™s basis in Ravelâ€™s â€œBolero,â€ and expanded strings on â€œBlue Angelâ€ and â€œLove Hurtsâ€ add lushness and power to the originals. On the other hand, â€œOh, Pretty Womanâ€ seems to diminish the originalâ€™s wonder and yearning, and the vocal on â€œDream Babyâ€ doesnâ€™t quite sit in the pocket. Later material is given ELO-styled rock treatment thatâ€™s less effective than Jeff Lynneâ€™s original productions. As with most covers projects, this one wonâ€™t have you tossing out your singles and albums, but for fans whoâ€™ve listened to these songs a thousand times, itâ€™s nice to hear something new in the familiar. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]