Thursday, September 02, 2010

Roy Orbison - The Last Concert (2010)

Roy Orbison, one of the extraordinary talents of rock 'n roll's formative years, was almost Elvis Presley's vocal equal. Like "The King" he preferred ballads to rocking out and, just like Presley, he excelled at both. For those unfamiliar with Orbison his often dramatic (some would say melodramatic) singing style is best represented today by the likes of The Mavericks' Raul Malo.

The Last Concert features the star in top vocal form all during this last memorable show at Highland Heights in Akron, Ohio on December 4, 1988. Unfortunately, one can't listen to it without just a touch of sadness because Orbison died only two days later of a heart attack at age 52 making the title of the CD the cold, dark truth. The singer's passing is made even sadder when you realize he died less than two months after his new supergroup, Traveling Wilburys, released the first of their only two CDs. The Wilburys helped put one of Sun Records iconic pioneers back into the spotlight.

The good news is that this fifty-five minute, fourteen song CD is a joyous best of retrospective as well as a historic document. Orbison tells the audience that "Ooby Dooby" was the first song he ever recorded for Sun and further educates the crowd by announcing that the next tune, "Go, Go, Go (Down The Line)" was the first song he ever wrote. Add them to a bunch of his golden hits including, "Only The Lonely," "Dream Baby," "Blue Bayou," "It's Over," "In Dreams," and his biggest hit, "Oh, Pretty Woman" which closes the show, and you get not only 60s nostalgia but excellent pop sung by a rocker with a four octave range.

The only negative lies with the sparse liner notes. They briefly describe Orbison's last night on stage and the bleak events that followed, but that is all. Other than the track listing there are no other notes, no composing and production credits, and the band is not even given their due. Orbison, and everyone involved, deserved to be treated better than this because the concert really was goodbye forever.

If you like Orbison and oldies you should buy The Last Concert. You won't regret it.

Here is Orbison's final live performance of "Oh, Pretty Woman."

1 comment:

  1. It's sad to think that after Orbison died, Jeff Lynne wanted to replace him in the Traveling Wilburys with Del Shannon... Before Shannon joined he committed suicide. I guess no one was supposed to replace Orbison in that supergroup.