Expanded reissues of the pivotal first three LPs recorded by Roy Orbison for Monument Records provides an insightful reminder of a true musical pioneer.
Music hit a rough patch in the late '50s and early '60s. Many critics mark the period as the "dark ages" of rock 'n' roll; the proverbial pin had been stuck in rock 'n' roll's balloon, if you will, and the best of what came out of rock was but a short-lived fad. We'd just lost the likes of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, Elvis Presley had just returned from his stint in the Army, and The Beatles had only just been born as a band.
In the midst of this rock lull was the rise of dominant songwriting and publishing companies, which became the most powerful forces behind pop music created at the time. Indeed, 1958 saw the doors of The Brill Building of New York open, representing the likes of songwriters like Carole King, Barry Mann, Neil Diamond, and Neil Sedaka - their music fare was much of what was played on the radio, those days. Meanwhile, the Brill Building's competition was producing pop classics, too: the team of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller were behind Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock" in 1957 and "Stand By Me" for Ben King in 1961, and partners Kerome "Doc" Pomus and Mort Shuman Dion's boasted "Teenager in Love" in 1959. It was a time when these songwriting powerhouses were changing the way songs were created, and instrumental epics, vocal doo-wop groups, and dance crazes like Chubby Checker's "The Twist" dominated the airwaves.