Waylon Jennings --
Nashville Rebel (Sony/BMG)
Nashville Rebel DVD (Sony BMG Home Video)
Nashville Rebel gathers the heart of Jennings' remarkable 37-year career onto an ample four-disc anthology. The 77 tracks span his 1958 recording of "Jole Blom" -- produced by Buddy Holly -- through the mid '90s reunion of the Highwaymen with Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson on the powerful "I Do Believe". In between are chart-toppers, dozens of hit singles, deep album sides and hard to find cuts.
If it's hits you're after, look no further as there has never been a larger collection of Jennings' classics, including "Love Of The Common People," "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line," "Sweet Dream Woman," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," "Waymore's Blues," "Mama's Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," and "Good Ol' Boys (Theme From 'The Dukes Of Hazzard')." Joining Jennings throughout are some very special guests, such as Jessie Colter ("Storms Never Last"), Willie Nelson ("Just To Satisfy You," "Good Hearted Woman" and "Take It To The Limit"), Hank Williams Jr. ("The Conversation") and even a previously unreleased duet with The Man In Black called "The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All".
Equally as impressive as the music is the 140+ page liner notes booklet with introspective essays from noted musicologists Lenny Kaye and Rich Kienzle, a complete track-by-track breakdown and plenty of rare photos, memorabilia and other eye candy.
Running at just shy of an hour, the Nashville Rebel DVD is a treasure-trove for enthusiasts wanting to catch a glimpse of the man in action and at his peak. Most of the contents are 1970s TV appearances from The Johnny Cash Show ("Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line"), Don Kirshner's Rock Concert ("Honky-Tonk Heroes," "Louisiana Women," "This Time" and "Slow Rollin' Low"), and the Cowboy Jack Clement Show ("Lonesome, On'ry And Mean," "I'm A Ramblin' Man," "It's Not Supposed To Be That Way," "Amanda" and "Waymore's Blues"). There are also a handful of performances from the legendary 1978 Lost Outlaw Concert at Opryland USA ("Luckenbach, Texas," "Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," "Good Hearted Woman," Are You Ready For The Country?" and "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?").
Rounding out the disc are the mid-'80s music videos for "America," "The Conversation" (with Hank Williams Jr.) and "Never Could Toe The Mark." Plus, two vintage made-for-TV commercials, respectively hawking the Greatest Hits (1979) and Wanted! The Outlaws (1976) albums.
Roy Orbision --
Sings Lonely and Blues (Monument/Legacy)
In Dreams (Monument/Legacy)
In Dreams DVD (Orbison Records/Legacy)
The Essential Roy Orbision (Monument/Orbision Records/Legacy)
Under the auspices of his widow Barbara, the monumental task of reconstructing the recorded legacy of Roy Orbison is finally under way. In this first multi-media batch are the vintage long players Sings Lonely & Blue (1960), Crying (1962) and In Dreams (1963). Plus, there is a new 90-minute documentary that bears the similar moniker In Dreams DVD (2006). As if that weren't a gracious plenty, Orbison's double-disc Essentials entry is available sporting no less than 40 of the artist's finest from throughout his 30+ year career.
As was common practice in the seminal days of the LP, these Orbison albums were primarily collections of previously issued material. Sings Lonely & Blue included the hits "Only The Lonely," "Blue Angel" and "I'm Hurtin'". The expanded contents for the newly remastered edition adds "Uptown," "Pretty One" "Here Comes That Song Again" and "Today's Teardrops".
Crying followed in short order with more recent selections -- specifically the title tune and survey-topping "Running Scared". The dozen songs have been upgraded with the bonuses "Candy Man," "Let The Good Times Roll," "Dream Baby" and "The Actress," which was the flip-side to the "Dream Baby 45 ."
In Dreams gathers the hugely successful title ballad together with timeless treasures such as "Blue Bayou," and a cover of the Everly Brothers' "All I Have To Do Is Dream". Featured in this round of supplementary sides are "Falling," "Distant Drums," "Mean Woman Blues," and "Pretty Paper."
The In Dreams DVD (2006) is a thoughtfully and thoroughly presented overview of Orbison's life on and off stage. The story is told more-or-less chronologically through archived interviews with the legend himself and first person comments from a wide array of those who knew and were directly influenced by Orbison. The literal who's who cast includes: Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Jeff Lynne, Robert Plant, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Chris Issak, Martin Sheen, David Lynch, k.d. lang, Emmylou Harris and many others.
Better still are the musical performances. Each bears traces of Orbison's phenomenal international acclaim -- which was tempered by the tragic loss of his wife in a motorcycle accident and then his two sons in a separate incident involving a fire at his estate. The songs likewise tell of his rebirth and survival. Most poignant is the time spent on his comeback in the '80s, though little is dedicated to his membership in the all-star Traveling Wilburys.
It's sort of surprising that the Essential Roy Orbison (2006) is the first package to properly anthologize his long and illustrious catalogue. What listeners are treated to is the finest of Roy Orbison with major offerings from his late '50s and early '60s output on Disc One. These range from the rockabilly wail of "Ooby Dooby" and "Go! Go! Go!" through to the unmistakable, driving beat of "Oh, Pretty Woman."
Disc Two commences marking Orbison's mid '80s renaissance with "You Got It," "She's A Mystery To Me," and "The Only One," all from Mystery Girl (1989) before backtracking two decades to catch up with "Ride Away," "Crawling Back," and "Walk On" from the mid-to-late '60s. One rarity is his duet with Emmylou Harris for "That Lovin' You Feeling' Again," from the film Roadie(1980).
The mid '80s reworkings of his own "Running Scared" and the use of an updated version of "In Dreams" by filmmaker David Lynch signaled Orbison's revival. This era was further solidified with several other substantial projects, including his Black and White Night Live concert -- from which the highlight "Claudette" was extracted.
All told, if you own but one Orbison collection, The Essential deserves to be it.
Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.