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Mike Dow Mike Dow
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edge staff writer


Roy Orbison doc produced by sons 'Mystery Girl: Unraveled'

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When Roy Orbison's 'Mystery Girl' album was issued two months after his sudden death of a heart attack at age 52, it became a rare rock occurrence a posthumously issued recording worthy of standing proud with his most cherished recordings.

As 'Mystery Girl' quickly jumped into the top five on the Billboard charts, it joined another album blessed with Orbison's genius the first record by The Traveling Wilburys was sitting tight at number three. The most holy of rock super-friend alliances reestablished Orbison's legend while 'Mystery Girl' sealed it. It seemed like Roy was still with us.

Twenty-five years later, 'Mystery Girl' has been reissued in expanded form. The 10 original tracks (including 'You Got It' and 'She's a Mystery to Me') have been augmented with eight demo recordings from the sessions along with a never heard Orbison song called 'The Way Is Love' featuring Roy's voice backed contemporaneously by his sons, Alex, Wesley and Roy Jr.

The new set benefits from an upgrade in sound quality and the addition of the Orbison brothers' 60 minute documentary about their father's final recording sessions, included in the deluxe CD/DVD reissue for 'Mystery Girl.'

'Mystery Girl: Unraveled,' directed by Alex Orbison, features new interviews with original album participants Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Jeff Lynne, Bono, Steve Cropper and Jim Keltner, among others. Their insight accompanies never-before-seen footage of Roy working on the songs that made up both the 'Mystery Girl' and Traveling Wilburys records.

The following interview with Alex Orbison was conducted on May 19 release day for the new project.

Dow: You were only 13 when you lost your dad. Was it difficult to hear the 'Mystery Girl' songs during that time?


Orbison: I used to listen to it constantly. Actually, we were listening to it before. It had been finalized in November (1988), so my dad had it for a couple of weeks. In many ways, it was great to have the record after he died. It was really nice to hear his voice. He had been working on this music for over three years. To finally have it come out, it was really great for me to have it with the liner notes and everything.

Dow: As you and your brothers put the new film 'Mystery Girl: Unraveled' together, did you uncover anything that surprised you?

Orbison: I was surprised to see the moment when The Traveling Wilburys came together. Jeff Lynne was recording (George Harrison's) 'Cloud Nine,' and then he started on the 'Mystery Girl' album with my dad. In the film, you see George show up. He pops in and he's singing backing vocals on the record. The studio footage ends there and that's when they went for the famous dinner when they had the idea of getting Bob Dylan in the group. The Traveling Wilburys were born the next day, and it's really cool to see that moment.

Dow: On that first Traveling Wilburys album, you can hear the reverence they had for your dad and how much fun he was having with them. It's like they couldn't believe Roy was in their band.

Orbison: Yes and it's amazing at how informal those sessions were. The big shocker is that they recorded in Mike Campbell's (of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers) garage. My dad's vocals were recorded under the light where the garage door mechanism is (laughs).


Dow: What was it like for you and your brothers to become your dad's backing band on the new track, 'The Way Is Love?' (The song features a 1986 Orbison vocal recorded on cassette.)

Orbison: It was really was a dream come true to back our dad up on that track. We had never recorded together as brothers. There was a little apprehension because of the seriousness of what we were doing, but when I got there and saw their faces, I saw how happy and smiley they all were and we just had a great time.

Dow: When you and your brothers were growing up, did you realize how famous your dad was?

Orbison: Around the time I was 4 or 5, I started to notice. I realized that he was a really great singer, and I was converted into a fan. I loved to play the vinyl and go to the shows and see him achieve these great vocal feats of daring. My dad's voice got better every day of his life.

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor).

Last modified on Monday, 26 May 2014 13:36


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