Saturday, January 03, 2015

Roy Orbison At The Rock House & Show # 541

Roy Orbison’s At The Rock House was first released in 1961 by Sun Records at the same time Orbison started gaining success with his singles on the Monument record label. At the time of this album’s release, Orbison had not yet released a full-length album with the Monument record label. Prior to this, a young Roy Orbison cut his early roots in the orbit of Sun Records with the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. In his brief period with Sun from 1956-1958, Orbison first found success with his single “Ooby Dooby” recorded with his backing band The Teen Kings. The song got Orbison a deal with Sun Records, however, The Teen Kings disbanded shortly after the singles success. Orbison remained on the label as a solo artist recording songs, but also wrote songs for other artists. It wasn’t until he provided The Everly Brothers with the song “Claudette”, also the name of Roy’s first wife, that he was able to buy himself out of his Sun Records contract.

At The Rock House begins with the song “This Kind Of Love” which sets the tone for the album and can be seen as setting the tone for Roy Orbison’s musical style to come. With the lyrics “Our love/Won’t die/Can’t die/This kind of love was meant for you and I”, Orbison reveals a certain emphasis within the song’s structure and context in his voice. It is undeniably Orbison, but at the same time it is more upbeat and more in the presentation of early Sun Records recordings. “Devil Doll”, another early Sun Records song and single cut by Orbison gives us a glimpse of the first signs of the future darker ballad style Orbison would be known for. This song is credited to Sam Phillips, but it was actually written by Roy Orbison. There are several songs on this album that were written by Orbison, but were credited to Phillips. These songs include “This Kind Of Love”, “You’re Gonna Cry”, “I Never Knew” and “Mean Little Mama” to name a few. In addition to this, songwriting credits on this album also feature songs that were written by Johnny Cash “You’re My Baby” and a Harold Jenkins collaboration on “Rock House”. Jenkins is perhaps better known as Conway Twitty.

“It’s Too Late” originally recorded in 1956 and “I Never Knew”, both portray more dramatic elements. “I Never Knew” in particular has the feeling of the Elvis Presley song “Blue Moon”. “You’re Gonna Cry” is a mid-tempo rockabilly ballad showcasing the lyrical style that Orbison fans would identify with. The guitar on this track, (most likely added as an overdub after the fact), adds extra intensity to the song. Other tracks of note here are “You’re My Baby”, a frenetic stop and start track in Sun Records rockabilly style, “Mean Little Mama” with Orbison boasting in a style similar to Elvis Presley and “Rock House”. This song, which is where the album’s title originates from is as mentioned earlier, a song collaborated on with Conway Twitty. This song recorded with The Teen Kings as the backing band, jumps with its rolling treble loaded drum fills and Scotty Moore styled electric guitar licks.

“Problem Child” is the last song found on At The Rock House. On this song Orbison lays his distinctive, impassioned, delicate vocals overtop the tracks wild rock ‘n’ roll foundation. Although the song can be seen as a love song about a problematic relationship, it could also be seen as how Orbison viewed himself at the time. With lyrics such as “Well I do believe in my soul/You’re Out of control with this rock ‘n roll”, these lines emphasize that this could also be a love song in disguise, pulling in more subject matter than it appears when you look beneath the surface. Roy Orbison may have said that he wasn’t comfortable within the rockabilly dynamic, but this song and the eleven others on this release serve as an important document. “Problem Child” and the rest of the songs found on At The Rock House show that Roy Orbison was capable of playing rockabilly, but that he was also a songwriter that had his own distinctive style. His songwriting would eventually be focused on in greater detail, which would lead to Orbison’s own successes in the world of rock music. This album shows his early beginnings with a dash of Sun Records echo and twang.

Saturday Night Play List:

1. 999 - I’m Alive
2. The Tomboys - I’d Rather Fight Than Switch
3. The Len Bright Combo - You’re Gonna Screw My Head Off
4. Young Rival - Elevator
5. Acid Baby Jesus - Who’s First
6. John Otway - Baby’s In The Club
7. Wazmo Nariz - Tele-Tele-Telephone
8. Queen’s Rug - Like A Plague
9. AKA & The Charlatans - 634 Dog
10. Little Richard - Keep A Knockin’
11. Jack Scott - Midgie
12. The Gestics - Invasion
13. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Theme From TV
14. Davie Allan & The Arrows - Blues Theme
15. CJ Ramone - Last Chance To Dance
16. Fifth Column - Like This (Brave New Waves Session)
17. The Animals - Don’t Bring Me Down
18. Tire Swing Co. - Time Away
19. The Black Angels - Molly Moves My Generation
20. Sonic Jesus - Lost Reprise
21. The Electric Vomit - Treasure Hunt
22. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - You Belong To Me (Live)
23. The Government - Telephobia
24. Ty Segall - It’s A Problem
25. Actual Water - Waldo Jackson
26. Dead Ghosts - Summer With Phil
27. Dead Ghosts - Cold Stare
28. Roy Orbison - You’re Gonna Cry
29. Roy Orbison - I Never Knew

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 3. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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