Roy Orbison, a.k.a. The Big O, a.k.a. Lefty Wilbury, a.k.a. “the Caruso of Rock,” never did anything small. His big, booming voice gave life to a series of painfully heartbreaking yet irresistible ballads that sounded like nothing else in rock and roll or pop. Orbison brought an authenticity and urgency to the dramatic songs he wrote and recorded, but when he cut loose on an “Ooby Dooby” or “Oh, Pretty Woman,” his voice could also be the sound of freedom and lust and excitement. With the February 7, 1989 release of Mystery Girl, the music of Roy Orbison was riding high. The album went Top 5 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the Top 10 success of “You Got It,” which returned the singer to the Top 40 for the first time in 24 years. Unfortunately, the success of Mystery Girl was bittersweet, as Orbison had passed away a scant couple of months prior to its release, on December 6, 1988. On May 20, 2014, Legacy Recordings and Roy’s Boys LLC will celebrate this triumphant posthumous comeback with the release of a CD/DVD Deluxe Edition, a 15-track Mystery Girl Expanded Edition on CD, and a double-LP set.
While Roy Orbison didn’t live to see the release of Mystery Girl, he did get to enjoy a resurgence of popularity. David Lynch’s 1986 cult classic Blue Velvet prominently utilized Roy’s haunting “In Dreams.” That same year, he reunited with old friends Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the Sun Records reunion disc Class of ’55, and revisited many of his seminal recordings on In Dreams: The Greatest Hits. 1988 was another monumental year for The Big O. He began the year with the broadcast on Cinemax of A Black and White Night, for which he was supported by a band of admirers. And this little band was the greatest in the land, featuring James Burton, Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt and Glen D. Hardin from fellow Sun alumnus Elvis Presley’s TCB Band along with T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, J.D. Souther, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes and k.d. lang. (Whew!) Later in 1988, Warner Bros. released the first album by the mysterious Traveling Wilburys. Rumor has it that Nelson, Otis, Lefty, Charlie and Lucky were, in fact, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan!
Work on the album that would become Mystery Girl began during The Wilburys’ sessions. Songs were contributed by Orbison himself along with Diane Warren, Albert Hammond, Elvis Costello, Wesley Orbison, and U2’s Bono and The Edge. Jeff Lynne, T Bone Burnett, Bono, and the team of Orbison and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell all produced tracks for the LP. Campbell, Howie Epstein and Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers all played on Mystery Girl, as did Al Kooper and George Harrison. The infectious Orbison/Petty/Lynne “You Got It” became the lead track on the album. As gleamingly produced by Lynne in the style of the Wilburys’ recordings, it became one of Roy’s biggest hits.
After the jump: full specs and pre-order links for all formats!
The CD/DVD Deluxe Edition of Mystery Girl adds nine previously unreleased tracks on CD to the original 10-song line-up plus an all-new documentary on the DVD. Drawn from studio recordings and demos, the nine new audio tracks include “The Way is Love” with a “newly restored Roy Orbison vocal track layered with contemporary guitar, drum and vocal accompaniment by Roy's three sons (Roy Jr., Alex and Wesley).” The song was discovered on a work tape by Roy and his frequent collaborator Bill Dees Roy's vocals were found on a previously unheard Roy Orbison/Bill Dees work tape, originally recorded on a boombox cassette player. Producer John Carter Cash restored the track in a manner similar to the recordings on his father Johnny Cash’s new Out Among the Stars, building a new track around Orbison’s existing vocal. Cash added Wesley and Roy Jr. on guitar as well as Alex on drums, and all three sons on background vocals.
The hour-long documentary film Mystery Girl: Unraveled, directed by Alex Orbison, chronicles the song-by-song creation of Mystery Girl through both archival footage and new interviews with many of those who were there at the time including Billy Burnette, John Carter Cash, Mike Campbell, Steve Cropper, Richard Dodd, Jim Keltner, Jeff Lynne, David Malloy, Tom Petty and Roy's three sons. The film also incorporates never-before-seen interviews with Bono, , Jeff Ayeroff, the late Barbara Orbison and others. And that’s not all. The DVD also includes eight music videos, four of which are previously unissued.
The single-CD Expanded Edition of Mystery Girl adds five tracks to the original sequence including “The Way is Love,” and the Deluxe LP Edition presents the original album on one LP and the full nine bonus tracks on the second LP. This 180-gram vinyl release will be issued not on May 20 but on June 10.
All editions of Roy Orbison’s landmark Mystery Girl from Legacy Recordings and Roy’s Boys, LLC can be ordered at the links below! Legacy’s past reissues of In Dreams: The Greatest Hits, A Black and White Night and The Last Concert are all still available.
Roy Orbison, Mystery Girl: 25th Anniversary Edition (Orbison Records/Legacy 88843 05959-2, 2014)
2-LP Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. Link TBD / Amazon U.K.
Disc 1: Original album (released as Virgin Records 91058, 1989) and bonus tracks
- You Got It
- In the Real World
- (All I Can Do is) Dream You
- A Love So Beautiful
- California Blue
- She's a Mystery to Me
- The Comedians
- The Only One
- Careless Heart
- The Way is Love (*)
- She's a Mystery to Me (Studio Demo) (*)
- The Only One (Studio Demo) (*)
- (All I Can Do is) Dream You (Studio Demo)
- The Comedians (Studio Demo)
- In the Real World (Studio Demo)
- California Blue (Studio Demo) (*)
- Windsurfer (Worktape Demo)
- You Are My Love (Worktape Demo) (*)
Disc 2: DVD
- Mystery Girl: Unraveled documentary
- The Way is Love (new promo video)
- California Blue (new alternative promo video)
- You Got It (new alternative promo video)
- You Got It (original promo video)
- California Blue (original promo video)
- She's a Mystery to Me (original promo video)
- She's a Mystery to Me (alternate David Fincher promo video - previously unreleased)
- A Love So Beautiful (original promo video)
CD Tracks 11-19 are previously unissued
Bonus tracks marked with (*) appear on the single-disc Expanded Edition