One Of The Lonely Ones
Universal Music Catalogue
My first favourite album of 2016 and the last great release of 2015 was actually recorded – and intended – for 1969. This is no touched-up, phoned-in set of remakes, digitally reconstructed from remnants, this is an extant Roy Orbison album from 1969 – and for some reason (a mystery: fabulous!) it was not released; you can just assume that by ’69 Roy was losing his cool (though you’d not think it to listen to this now…) He’d had his great run of hits and by 1969, though he was still releasing music, it was very much the people he’d inspired that were the cool, hip, young things. CCR and The Beatles and The Stones and the last remnants of the British Blues Boom and a wave of American rock’n’roll revivalists and such…and no room for Roy.
That has to have been the case.
Particularly when you hear One of the Lonely Ones. Hear it, and think too of how this album was put together as Orbison was remaking his life, remarried, his first wife killed in a motorcycle crash, their sons burned to death in a house fire – and here we have The Big O singing You’ll Never Walk Alone. My goodness!
There’s also something approaching mild-psychedelia in Child Woman Woman Child – somewhere between Lee Hazlewood and Rodriguez. Elsewhere that plaintive voice soars across heart-sweeping ballads (Laurie) or simply holds court (Say No More, Leaving Makes The Rain Come Down).
In fact this would be fine to just have been found – a curio. But half a dozen of the selections here feel vital, feel as good as (almost) anything he did; feel like that time you imagined how great it would have been had Elvis Presley tackled Gene Clark’s No Other.
So it’s a sweet, wonderful mystery how this ended up on the shelf. It’s better than the album Roy Orbison released in 1969 – so maybe this was just unwelcome for being another Roy Orbison album in a year/era when he couldn’t justify flooding the market. But yes, part of the magic is in knowing this record might never have been heard, wasn’t heard until now. But most of the magic is in hearing it, in noticing how triumphant it sounds – and stands. It’s really something. But then so was Roy Orbison. One of the all-time greats.