Top positive review
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A final, precious gift from Roy to his fans
on 13 June 2003
I will never forget waking up one early December day in 1988 and finding out that Roy Orbison had died suddenly and unexpectedly shortly after performing in concert the night before. I, along with a legion of long-time fans, grieved the loss of this incredible singer and performer. Initially, his death at that particular time in his career seemed terribly unfair. After stagnating during the 1970s and early 1980s, Orbison was back and perhaps even better than ever in 1988. His collaboration with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne in the form of The Traveling Wilburys had put him back in the national spotlight, and many of us longed for the new album soon to be released, an album we had heard nothing but incredibly good things about. Then, suddenly, he and the voice that touched our hearts for so many years, was gone. We, the fans, should have been rewarding Roy Orbison for all of the memories he gave us in song, yet, ever the selfless and humble man he was, Orbison actually presented all of us with a final, precious gift in the form of the album Mystery Girl. Roy’s widow Barbara deserves our heartfelt thanks for bravely putting the finishing touches on this album after her husband’s death.
Mystery Girl is simply an incredible album featuring a reenergized Roy Orbison easily uniting his unique voice to a modern sound that appealed to any number of ears; the released tracks from this album found ample playing time on both pop rock and country radio stations. Perhaps the first single, You Got It, got too much attention, as it was nearly played to death over the course of the first half of 1989, but that is just a tribute to the wonderful beauty and infectious beat and rhythm of this song co-written by Orbison and Wilbury buddies Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty. The second track on the album, In the Real World, marks an abrupt change in tone; bringing to mind Roy’s classic song In Dreams; Orbison captures your heard on the first note and soars with it through the clouds that only he possessed the means of exploring. This haunting track is, in my opinion, the best song on the album. Roy decides to rock a little bit on (All I Can Do Is) Dream You before stopping to wax poetic and heartbreaking on the slow ballad A Love So Beautiful, a song featuring a little musical support from co-writer Jeff Lynne and George Harrison. California Blue (another Orbison-Lynne-Petty venture), The Only One, and Windsurfer are great songs in their own right, but special attention must be shown the remaining three tracks. Careless Heart is a beautiful song of love and loss that seems to convey a sense of the type of feelings we felt over the loss of this man taken much too soon from our midst. She’s a Mystery To Me, written by U2’s Bono and The Edge, presents Roy with a slightly different type of song that he easily makes his own, hitting the high notes perfectly on the choruses. Then there is The Comedians, a song written by Elvis Costello; this is vintage Roy Orbison, delivering a strikingly visual display of betrayal and loss, the very subjects Roy seemed to understand more than any other singer out there.
Mystery Girl is a very special album that Roy Orbison fans will treasure and play often for the rest of our lives. I wish Roy would have lived to see the incredible reception this album received from fans, but one can take comfort in the fact that Orbison left this world on top where he always belonged.