Roy Orbison

The Orbison Way

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On his second MGM album, Roy Orbison works alternately in an orchestral and a band setting (the latter with his new backing group the Candy Men), and offers two distinctly new wrinkles on his sound throughout this album, while guitarists Billy Sanford and John Rainey Adkins reveal themselves as powerful yet amazingly articulate players. The band-backed stuff has a lean texture that's a marvel of sonic conciseness, while the orchestra-accompanied sides allow Orbison to open up vocally as never before, casting him in an almost operatic setting, in terms of emotional pitch, though the material itself is pure pop/rock with some elements of country-pop. "The Loner" (co-authored by Adkins), "Maybe," "Breakin' Up Is Breakin' My Heart," "Time Changes Everything" and much of the rest here could have passed muster on any of Orbison's Monument albums, though some of the other songwriting and some of the stylistic choices are debatable. The other problem is its timing -- Orbison's second album for MGM, The Orbison Way was recorded in October and November of 1965, and issued in January of the following year -- had he released an album such as this in 1963, or even 1964, it might have achieved more respect than it did (and it still managed to chart decently, especially in England, where it was issued by London Records), but by early 1966, the bar for pop music was being raised so high by the likes of the Beatles and the Byrds that it was impossible -- especially without a compelling hit single -- to compete with a sound as basic as this on the same footing.

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