Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison

The Last Concert December 4, 1988

Eagle Rock entertainment

Someone once said “Every show is your last show” and for Roy Orbison that show took place in lowly Akron, Ohio in 1988. After half a century of setting the standards for pop and rock, Roy Orbison and his trademark dark glasses left us with a legacy of standards that populate nearly every “Best of the ’50s and ’60s” disc plugged on late night TV. It’s not clear if this recording was planned as part of a live concert disc, or if it was just made for archival purposes. The sound quality is acceptable for a live show and it doesn’t appear to have undergone much post recording sweetening. Of course, with Roy out of the picture they really couldn’t loop much, but the playing is flawless as are the vocals. However there is a sort of flat quality in the sound — it’s hard to pin down exactly what’s missing and that’s why I think this is the real deal, taken right off the master mix board. Possibly it’s the room acoustics, perhaps just the vagrancies of any random performance, but Roy’s voice is clear, and his falsetto three bars into “Only the Lonely” shows he still had all his vocal chops.

His show seems short with just 14 tracks the liner notes claim are in the show’s running order, but he covers the big hits and adds a few nice obscurities. “In Dreams” floats along languidly and reminds us all of why Orbison became the king of lonely love songs. There aren’t any bad cuts here, and highlights include “Blue Bayou” and a very sad “Cryin’.” “Candyman” picks up some unobtrusive female backing vocals — the girls are in other cuts but very hard to notice. There aren’t many upbeat cuts here, but “Ooby Dooby” adds some rockabilly piano and on “Lana” it sounds like he finally got that date he’s been moping for for the last 10 tracks. Showman that he is, he keeps his biggest hit in his back pocket and ends the show with a rousing “Pretty Woman” (it’s the only cut with audience whistling in the middle). It’s not the best “Pretty Woman” I’ve ever heard him do, but it’s not bad. The Last Concert is a solid set of music and a must for the diehard fan, but I feel his studio work is better than this live collection. Faint praise, but praise none the less.

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