Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1965, Roy Orbison departed Fred Foster's Monument Records label for MGM Records, offshoot of the famed movie studio. In his eight-year tenure at MGM, Orbison released 11 studio albums, one film soundtrack and 27 singles. On December 4, all of The Big O's MGM recordings will be released for the first time in one package via Universal Music Enterprises in association with Roy's Boys, LLC, the company founded by Orbison's sons to administer their father's catalogue. The MGM Years will be available as a 13-CD box, a digital box set or a 14-LP 180-gram vinyl box. On the same date, UMe and Roy's Boys will separately issue One of the Lonely Ones, a shelved album recorded by Roy for MGM in 1969, on CD, DD and LP.
Orbison joined MGM riding the crest of the "Oh, Pretty Woman" wave; the composition which he wrote with Bill Dees was a U.S. and U.K. chart-topper at the height of the British Invasion in 1964. Enticed by the promise of a starring role on screen, Orbison signed with the label rather than re-up his Monument deal. He first entered the studio for MGM in July 1965, and his first single "Ride Away" reached No. 1 in Canada. His debut MGM album, There is Only One Roy Orbison, topped the British chart. Though Orbison's MGM material found him staying true to his signature sound (or perhaps because of it), he didn't eclipse or match the success of his Monument hits in America. But he did notch a further 11 worldwide Top 40 hits, in total. Three made the U.S. Top 40 - "Ride Away," "Breakin' Up is Breakin' My Heart" and "Twinkle Toes." He also got his movie, 1967's The Fastest Guitar Alive. In the CD era, Orbison's MGM years had long been overlooked, especially in the United States. Many of the albums were finally addressed on a series of reissues from Edsel and then from Sony's U.K. arm.
The MGM Years boasts Roy's 11 original studio albums, the long out-of-print soundtrack to The Fastest Guitar Alive (just briefly released on CD as a Special Products release) and a newly-created compilation album called MGM B-Sides & Singles that contains all 12 non-album singles and B-sides that otherwise weren't included in any album; the box contains, in all, 152 tracks. Audio has been overseen by Alex Orbison and Grammy-winning engineer Chuck Turner with the intention of bringing the masters "back to their original warm vinyl sound," and Richard Dodd has remastered. Each original album comes with fully-restored original artwork. The box set also includes a bound booklet with extensive liner notes written by Alex Orbison, Roy's youngest son, and never-before-seen photos.
Both The MGM Years and the never-before-released album One of the Lonely Ones (with 12 tracks including Orbison originals and a cover of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel classic "You'll Never Walk Alone") will be released via UMe and Roy's Boys on December 4. You can peruse the contents and pre-order below!
Roy Orbison, The MGM Years (UMe/Roy's Boys, 2015)
- There Is Only One Roy Orbison (1965)
- The Orbison Way (1966)
- The Classic Roy Orbison (1966)
- Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson (1967)
- The Fastest Guitar Alive (Original Soundtrack) (1967)
- Cry Softly Lonely One (1967)
- Roy Orbison's Many Moods (1969)
- Hank Williams the Roy Orbison Way (1970)
- The Big O (1970)
- Roy Orbison Sings (1972)
- Memphis (1972)
- Milestones (1973)
- MGM B-Sides & Singles (2015) (2 discs in vinyl box set, 1 disc in CD box set)
- You'll Never Walk Alone
- Say No More
- Leaving Makes the Rain Come Down
- Sweet Memories
- One of the Lonely Ones
- Child Woman, Woman Child
- The Defector
- Give Up
- Little Girl (In the Big City)
- After Tonight
- I Will Always