Roy Orbison

The Last Concert: December 4, 1988
Eagle Records
Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison’s Monument Records labelmate Tony Joe White says Orbison gave his all at every live performance; nothing on this disc will disprove that claim. Yes, there are a couple of small hitches – the ’80s overture/intro has none of the timeless quality of Orbison’s earliest hits, there are a couple of gimmicky endings, guitarist Bruce Pierson is too in love with his f langer, and though Orbison apparently performed “Running Scared” at the show, it is omitted here.

But all is forgiven the moment Orbison sings the opening of “Only The Lonely,” his voice so strong and true it’s impossible to believe this concert took place a mere two days before he passed away.

When he hits the first high note in “Lonely,” he conveys the magic atmosphere his voice generated, and it continues as he rolls through “It’s Over,” “Leah,” “In Dreams,” and other classics. The spine-tingling ending of “Crying” is so magnificent that, to everyone’s joy, he does it twice.

The Last Concert is a perfect complement to the comprehensive 2008 collection, The Soul Of Rock And Roll.

This article originally appeared in VG’s Nov. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.