|INCLUDES ‘CRYING’ DUET WITH k.d. lang, ORIGINAL VERSION OF ‘I DROVE ALL NIGHT’ PRODUCED BY DON WAS, JEFF LYNNE, T-BONE BURNETT, ROBBIE ROBERTSON, OTHERS|
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of its initial release, King of Hearts—the posthumous Roy Orbison album lovingly assembled by his friends and family after his untimely death—will be reissued this October 14. Available on CD, digitally and as a limited-edition LP pressed on red vinyl, the new edition of King of Hearts has been completely remastered and is offered by Roy’s Boys LLC, the Nashville-based company founded by the late icon’s sons to administer their father’s catalog and safeguard his legacy, in partnership with Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings.
Orbison’s late career resurgence as a member of the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne served a prelude to his smash hit Mystery Girl album that was released fewer than two months after his passing in late 1988. Some years later Barbara Orbison, his widow (and mother of Roy’s Boys principals Roy Orbison Jr and Alex Orbison), surveyed completed material that had not theretofore been included on her late husband’s albums, as well as demos on which his vocals were heard. She determined that a complete album could be constructed from those audio assets with new backing tracks commissioned where deemed necessary. The result was King of Hearts, an album created from various sources which, when assembled, served as a coherent and evocative conceptual “last hurrah” for one of music’s most celebrated voices. Various producers of note including Jeff Lynne and T-Bone Burnett (who had both been involved in the Mystery Girl sessions) as well as Robbie Robertson, David Briggs, Chips Moman, Albert Hammond and Diane Warren are credited as producers on specific King of Hearts tracks with Barbara Orbison serving as executive producer.
Don Was had a hand in producing three of the album’s tracks including “Crying,” a reprise of Orbison’s 1961 hit performed as a duet with k.d. lang and originally recorded for the soundtrack of the film Hiding Out, directed by Bob Giraldi. That rendering would go on to win a GRAMMY® for Best Country Collaboration and had a profound impact on k.d. lang’s life and career. She spoke with a sense of awe about what the song meant to her, “I literally think it changed my DNA. I think as a singer it literally shifted me somehow. That was an epic moment in my musical career, in my life, I mean, in my being.” She notes, “I always carried that song with the utmost respect because it was given to me by him personally – literally handed to me on a silver platter by Roy Orbison… I will always be deeply, deeply humbled and honored that I was given that song.”
Was also produced “We’ll Take The Night” and “After The Love Is Gone” for the album and recently commented, “It was really important to us that the posthumous sessions for King of Hearts avoided grief and sadness because Roy was such a positive and upbeat gentleman. We set up a live band and put a microphone in the vocal booth and, as Roy’s previously recorded performances boomed through our headphones, it was easy to imagine that he was in the booth singing along with the band. His spirit permeated every corner of the studio, and the tape captured the wistful transcendent warmth of the sessions.”
Jeff Lynne was involved in producing two of the album’s tracks including “Heartbreak Radio” and “I Drove All Night.” The latter, written specifically for Orbison by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, who crafted huge hits for Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston, the Bangles, Heart and Chrissie Hynde, was recorded in 1987 but it was not released at that time. Later versions by Cyndi Lauper and Celine Dion found chart success but Orbison’s original was not heard until the 1992 release of King of Hearts. It was heralded by a highly regarded music video starring Jason Priestly and Jennifer Connelly.
Other tracks heard on King of Hearts include “Wild Hearts Run Out of Time” from the soundtrack of the film Insignificance and “Coming Home,” a selection from Class of ’55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming, a collaborative effort with Orbison joining original Sun Records labelmates Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Roy Orbison had a hand in writing the vast majority of the King of Hearts tunestack. Apart from the above referenced “Crying,” “Coming Home,” “We’ll Take The Night” “After The Love Has Gone,” and “Wild Hearts Run Out of Time,” he also wrote “You’re The One,” produced by T-Bone Burnett, and ‘Love In Time,” produced by Robbie Robertson.
Barbara Orbison, who passed away in 2011 on the very same day her husband died 23 years earlier, wrote the album’s original liner notes that are also part of the King of Hearts reissue package. She wrote, “At times I could hardly bring myself to listen to the songs and definitely couldn’t think of finishing the album without Roy. I guess that was one of the reasons I arrived late at one of the first sessions. Don Was had booked the studio to put the rhythm track down around Roy’s voice. When I finally arrived at the studio, the musicians had already left. As I looked around the dimly lit studio – still full of empty cups and full ashtrays, I could just imagine the musicians telling one more funny story, the laughter of their camaraderie and Roy taking that last sip of Coca-Cola before saying “Okay, Let’s take it from the top.” In that moment of daydreaming, Don started rolling the tape and I heard Roy’s voice coming through the speaker singing…
Reach out and let it touch your soul
And give in to love
Love is believing
Hearing these words made it right for me to finish the album. When Roy was that young kid from Texas with a song in his heart and a melody of his lip I’m sure he could never have dreamed a sweeter dream than to have his songs finished with so much loving care by a community of old and new friends. Roy would be so honored to have kept another studio busy and filled with great musicians one more time. It was a real special experience to finish this for Roy.“
King of Hearts track listing
YOU’RE THE ONE
WE’LL TAKE THE NIGHT
CRYING (duet with k.d. lang)
AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE
LOVE IN TIME
I DROVE ALL NIGHT
WILD HEARTS RUN OUT OF TIME
CARELESS HEART (Original Demo)
Roy Orbison/Bill Dees
Troy Seals/Frankie Miller
Roy Orbison/Will Jennings/J.D. Souther
Roy Orbison/Joe Melson
Roy Orbison/Jerry L. Williams
6, 8. Roy Orbison/Will Jennings
Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly
Roy Orbison/Will Jennings/J.D. Souther
Roy Orbison/Diane Warren/Albert Hammond
Album compiled and mastered by Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab, Los
Angeles, except “Heartbreak Radio” and “I Drove All Night,” mastered
by Stephen Marcusson at Precision Mastering, Los Angeles.
2022 album remaster by Richard Dodd