Much like the Dreamboats and Petticoats compilations released at Christmas the yearly ‘with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’ albums have become a staple of the festive album calendar.
Aimed at an older audience (your nan), previous editions have brought the full string section together with the Best of Elvis Presley, an Elvis Christmas album and the GOAT Aretha Franklin. This year saw Royal Philharmonic take on the Big O - whose name alone is enough to pique my interest. On paper a strange collaboration but if the sound could match the voice then it had all the makings of something genius. Truthfully though the raw power of Roy Orbison proved too enigmatic for such a collision of worlds.
On paper a strange collaboration but if the sound could match the voice then it had all the makings of something genius
Were Roy alive today you would expect him to play the Sunday afternoon slot at Glastonbury, where legends see the sun set between flavours of the month and forgettable fads. The two hundred thousand teeny boppers would’ve heard the name, seen it on those old CDs their Dad’s refused to throw out, and a few might even leave as fans. As I listened to this mismatch mash of big sound and throwback croon I realised that Roy Orbison is the kind of performer as likely to show up to a festival with nothing but his guitar and still steal the show, rather than turn it up to eleven with a full orchestra.
Roy Orbison is the kind of performer as likely to show up to a festival with nothing but his guitar and still steal the show
It shows on this record - some songs absolutely thrive under the weight of the additional layers, some are bogged down and lessened. It’s an interesting experiment if nothing else, and whilst I’ll listen again I come away appreciating unmuddied Roy Orbison a whole lot more - he’s the voice, always was and always is.