Roy Orbison

The Essential

This two-CD set covers Roy Orbison’s musical career from “Ooby Dooby,” released on Sun Records in 1956, to “Life Fades Away,” written in collaboration with Glen Danzig and released in 1987. Naturally, all the instantly recognizable hits are here in beautiful, digitally remastered form. But the greatest fun of the collection for those whose only contact with Orbison’s music has been “Only the Lonely” and “Oh, Pretty Woman” will be the discovery of other, equally classic tracks. Songs of note: 1962’s “Leah,” with its percussion-heavy, vibraphone and violin exotica arrangement; Willie Nelson’s country two-step “Pretty Paper” from 1963; and “She’s a Mystery to Me,” written and produced by Bono of U2, which manages to seamlessly blend the signature U2 vibe with Orbison’s classic early-’60s pop sensibilities. With 40 songs spanning a 30-plus-year recording career, The Essential is both a great introduction to Orbison’s legacy and an elegant summation of a life spent making music. As Bob Dylan is quoted as saying at the end of Chet Flippo’s liner notes: “He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop and he meant business.”