Roy Orbison – Black & White Night 30 – Sony Entertainment

by | Nov 11, 2019 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Roy Orbison – Black & White Night 30 – Legacy Records/Sony Entertainment 19075890011 stereo double vinyl 57:32 ****1/2:

Rockabilly legends 1988 concert is revisited.

(Featuring Roy Orbison – guitar, vocals; Glen D. Hardin – piano; James Burton – lead guitar; Jerry Scheff – bass; Ronnie Tutt – drums; with special guests: Jackson Browne; T Bone Burnett; Elvis Costello; k.d.lang; Bonnie Raitt; J.D. Souther; Bruce Springsteen; Tom Waits; Jennifer Warnes)

Rock And Roll was forever changed by Sun Studios in Memphis. Artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, Carl Perkins and others captured the teen market with a swaggering confidence and country/r & b roots. This rockabilly sound was changing the face of music and would soon influence budding musicians around the world. Roy Orbison was a different kind of rockabilly artist. Described as operatic, his voice soared at upper registers. Some referred to him as The Caruso Of Rock. His stage persona was of a man of mystery with a vulnerable context and restrained stage antics. While Orbison was not setting the female musical fan community on flame, like Elvis and Jerry Lee, he was reaching his audience with well constructed songs. These included Blue Bayou” “Only The Lonely, Crying, Dream Babyand Oh, Pretty Women. These songs became a crucial part of Orbisions several decades legacy that led him to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987. Just before his untimely death in 1988, he recorded an album (The Traveling Wilburys) with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynn. This was a legitimate super group and the album was a huge success. After Orbisons death, a song he co-wrote with Petty and Lynn, You Got Itbecame his first Top 10 hit in 25 years.

Many rock pioneers are revered by the next generation of performers. Orbison is no exception. In 1988, a live celebration of Roy Orbison and his music was celebrated in Los Angeles. The televised concert, Roy Orbison Black & White Night was a very successful venture. Elvislegendary backup band (The TCB) which consisted of Glen D. Hardin (piano); James Burton (lead guitar); Jerry Scheff (bass) and Ronnie Tutt (drums) were on hand.. Additional singer/guitarists included Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, There were many notable backup singers including Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, J.D. Souther, k.d.lang, Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Warnes. The concert (at the Coconut Grove club) was a hit and provided a reminder to the music world of the unique celebrity of The Operatic Rockabilly. The black & white cinematography added a mystical effect to the momentous evening. Thirty years later Alex Orbison (son of the late singer) has organized an updated Roy OrbisonBlack & White 30 with re-edited film and previously unreleased material.

Legacy/Sony and Roys Boys has released a double vinyl update of this historical performance. The scope of Orbisons repertoire is amazing. Side A opens with the rockabilly/Mexican-tinged tempo of Only The Lonely. The punctuated tempo breaks, bona fide backup vocals and yesthat voice! The innate emotion, upper register inflection and iconic falsetto modulation are timeless. Keeping the swaying vibe, Leahdisplays an island-ishfeel with a nautical context. Some ear-catching descending half-notes and key changes are augmented by strings. Of course, the vocal flexibility underscores the impact of Roys singing. Another Orbison hit, In Dreamsshowcases the trademark Caruso Of Rock licks. Then he moves onto a song for the ages, Crying. Others (k.d. lang, Don McLean) have done credible versions of this, but not nearly as evocative. The arrangement is a natural fit for string orchestration and dramatic connotation. With raw vulnerability, Orbisons heartbreak is personified in his vocal flexibility and spine-tingling falsetto. Switching gears, the band rocks out with city slicker blues on Uptown. TCB sparkles on this one, especially James Burton. With momentum, Side B kicks off with an atmospheric ode to loneliness, The Comedians. Twangy guitar and a march-time beat frame the boundary-stretching vocals. A new track, Blue Angelis a throwback to 1950s dances with doo wop. Orbisons voice seems to be getting stronger. He had success with the sorrowful dirge, Its Over. The resonating tenor is unfaltering with piercing intonation. Running Scaredis another simple reflection on love with swelling accents and a smoothed-out chorus. On Dream Baby (How Long Must i Dream), Orbison embraces country roots with the right touch of honky tonkinaesthetics. Burton executes another deft solo.

Orbison and company flex their live muscle on Side C. Mean Woman Blues(also covered by Elvis and Jerry Lee) is classic Sun Records. The band rocks and fans get a taste of the nastier blues inclinations of this singer. On Candy Man, the arrangement goes Delta as Mississippi John Hurts blues standard gets a visceral harmonica solo. In a fun, country-rocker jam, Ooby Dooby is an homage to the energy of early rock nroll. And the focus returns to the exquisite songwriting of Orbison. Blue Bayouis a perfectly-constructed composition, with melancholy and sentiment. This song made Linda Ronstadt a superstar. Possible the most vibrant band performance on the album is Go! Go! Go! (Down The Line). The underlying train rhythmand overall energy off the ensemble produce a freewheeling onstage moment. Side D brings it all home. (All I Can Do Is) Dream Youis an up tempo rocker with a monumental repeat title refrain. It is a testament to Orbisons rock nroll pedigree. In a jaunty song that defines teenage love, Claudetteis full of rock flourishes. Two versions of Oh, Pretty Womanare here. After the alternate takes more succinct treatment, the big finish is embraced on the full concert number. In an extended jam, Roy is energized on vocals, including the signature growl. There are a plethora of guitarists and this easily is the best instrumental of the evening. A great concert ends on a high note.

Roy OrbisonBlack & White is simply rock nroll history. The vinyl comes with a digital download.


Side A: Only The Lonely; Leah; In Dreams; Crying; Uptown

Side B: The Comedians; Blue Angel; Its Over; Running Scared; Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)

Side C: Mean Woman Blues; Candy Man; Ooby Dooby; Blue Bayou; Go! Go! Go! (Down The Line)

Side D: (All I Can Do Is) Dream You; Claudette; Oh, Pretty Woman (Alternative Version); Oh, Pretty Woman

-Robbie Gerson

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