NYT: Times Music Critics Survey Boxed Sets of 2015

NYT: Times Music Critics Survey Boxed Sets of 2015

JOHN PARELES

In 1965, MGM Records signed Roy Orbison to a $1 million contract with grueling details; $25,000 a year for 20 years, three albums a year. Orbison was hugely productive. He wrote concise, unconventionally structured songs suffused with desperate yearning, and sang them in his long-breathed tenor, which rarely left melancholy behind, even in his soaring crescendos. But his career faltered — partly from record-company misfires, partly because the psychedelic era didn’t welcome an orchestra-loving rockabilly-era holdout in horn rims, no matter how startling his songs were below the surface. That makes “The MGM Years,” particularly the 1960s albums and singles, a trove of underappreciated material, especially suited to tearful moments. Mr. Orbison’s family also discovered, for separate release, an entire 1969 album that MGM had inexplicably rejected: “One of the Lonely Ones,” with Orbison in elegantly downhearted form.

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