The two Roy Orbison albums represented on this CD were his first two long-players for MGM Records, who he signed with in 1965 after the end of his five-year contract with Monument Records. Neither represents the singer/composer at his very best, but by the same token, neither album is an embarrassment -- that may come as a surprise to those who have heard Orbison's eight years on MGM referred to as the low-point of his career. Oh, to be sure, he was a bit off his game compared to the quality of material on albums and singles he'd generated for Monument -- only "Ride Away," the opening track and his first single, really captured the mix of angst, depth, and mystery that his most haunting and lingering Monument singles displayed. The sheer number of songs that he was obliged to deliver required him to reach deep into his song-bag on the first MGM album, and way back to "Claudette" (which was done in more spirited and effective fashion by the Everly Brothers). On the other hand, there's lots of eminently enjoyable material here, including the bluesy "Sugar and Honey," and the darkly romantic "I'm in a Blue, Blue Mood" and the soaring ballad "Big as I Can Dream." The Orbison Way, recorded late in 1965, offers a slightly more varied body of songs, half of them recorded with his new backing band the Candy Men, and the other half featuring orchestral accompaniment -- Orbison rises to new heights of drama in his singing on the latter songs, and it is interesting to hear him switch gears between the two musical backings and genres -- "The Loner" is one place where he melds the two genres. The Candy Men, incidentally, sound great on this CD -- the mastering is state-of-the-art and one can marvel at the mix of articulation and power generated by Billy Sanford, Robert Nix, Paul Garrison, Barry Booth, Billy Gilmore, and John Rainey Adkins, and the balancing of those attributes with the raw power of Orbison's voice. The annotation is extremely thorough, though one must dispute the claim that this marks the first CD release of Orbison's MGM material -- as you may recall, and can certainly confirm, a major chunk of his MGM catalog was re-released sometime in the year or so after Orbison's death in 1989. But otherwise, it's difficult to complain about the content.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder