Roy Orbison

The Fastest Guitar Alive [Original Soundtrack]

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Orbison's one bid for film stardom, The Fastest Guitar Alive, was an unqualified flop. The soundtrack fares slightly better, but only slightly. With ten songs clocking in at a mere 27 minutes, most of the tunes -- which Roy composed with longtime collaborator Bill Dees -- borrow from the cheesiest elements of cowboy music, with quasi-Mexican guitar riffs, silly Indian chants, and uneasy spaghetti western pathos. For all its ill-conceived failure, though, it includes what may be his best obscure tune, the rarely anthologized "Whirlwind." With its galloping rhythm, emotive operatic vocals, swirling strings, and ghostly backing vocals, it recalls the best uptempo ballads that he recorded during his early-'60s heyday at the Monument label. In 1968, of course, few listeners were interested.

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