|Studio album by|
|Released||January 31, 1989|
|Studio||Rumbo Recorders, Canoga Park, CA; A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA; FPSHOT, Oxfordshire|
|Producer||Roy Orbison, Mike Campbell, Jeff Lynne, T Bone Burnett, Barbara Orbison, Bono|
|Roy Orbison chronology|
Mystery Girl is the twenty-second album by American singer Roy Orbison. It was completed in November 1988, a month before his death at the age of 52, and according to the official Roy Orbison discography by Marcel Riesco, released on the Virgin record label on January 31, 1989. It includes the hit singles "You Got It", which was co-written by Orbison and his Traveling Wilburys bandmates Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty, and "She's a Mystery to Me", written by Bono and The Edge. The album was a critical and commercial success; it peaked at number 5 on the Billboard 200 in the United States, the highest position Orbison had achieved on that chart, and number 2 on the UK Albums Chart.
Mystery Girl was Orbison's first album of all-new material since 1979 and its success posthumously continued the resurgence that his career had undergone since 1986. Among the many other contributors to the album were Mike Campbell and other members of the Heartbreakers, T Bone Burnett, George Harrison, Jim Keltner and Rick Vito. For the 25th anniversary of its release, the album was reissued with bonus tracks including "The Way Is Love", a song recorded by Orbison on a cassette tape in the 1980s that was subsequently completed by his sons and producer John Carter Cash.
Before making Mystery Girl, Roy Orbison's last album of new material had been 1979's Laminar Flow. This release followed a run of commercial and critical failures in the United States since his years of international stardom in the early 1960s. From 1986, support from admirers such as filmmaker David Lynch and Bruce Springsteen reversed this trend, rescuing him from relative obscurity in his homeland as Orbison again became a popular concert draw. Jeff Lynne, another long-time admirer, began writing songs with Orbison over Christmas 1987 for a proposed new album. The track "You Got It" was written at this time and was a collaboration between Lynne, Orbison and Tom Petty. With Lynne as his producer, Orbison recorded "You Got It" in April 1988 at the garage studio of Petty's bandmate in the Heartbreakers, Mike Campbell.
Recording for the album continued alongside Orbison's involvement in the Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup project initiated by George Harrison and Lynne that also included Petty and Bob Dylan. Aside from further Lynne-produced sessions for Mystery Girl, to which Petty and Harrison contributed, Orbison recorded some of the songs with Campbell, T Bone Burnett and his wife Barbara Orbison each in the role of producer. The Heartbreakers played on much of the album, while Elvis Costello contributed the song "The Comedians".
The album was named after the chorus from the track "She's a Mystery to Me", which was written by U2's Bono and The Edge. In the documentary In Dreams: The Roy Orbison Story, Bono says he woke up for a concert soundcheck, following a late night listening to the soundtrack to Lynch's Blue Velvet, and had the tune of the title song in his head, figuring it was another Orbison song ("In Dreams" was the only Orbison song on that album). During the soundcheck, he performed "She's a Mystery to Me" for the other members of U2, who agreed that it sounded like an Orbison song. Orbison later met the band backstage at one of their concerts and subsequently asked Bono if he would like to write a song either with or for him.
Recording for the album was completed in November 1988. Having maintained a busy schedule of concert performances, Orbison told Johnny Cash at this time that he was experiencing chest pains and would need to do something about his health. On December 6, two days after performing a show in Highland Heights, Ohio, Orbison died of a heart attack, at the age of 52.
Release and reception
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
Mystery Girl was Orbison's first significant critical and commercial success as a solo artist since the mid-1960s.  It was released on January 31, 1989 and followed the Wilburys' Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 into the higher reaches of the US albums chart. On April 8, 1989, Orbison became the first deceased musician since Elvis Presley to have two albums in the top five positions in the US, with the Traveling Wilburys album at number 4 and Mystery Girl at number 5. This was the highest placing he had achieved for an album in the US, and the single, "You Got It", which peaked at number 9, was Orbison's first top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 since "Oh, Pretty Woman" in 1964. In the United Kingdom, on the national chart dated to February 11, 1989, Mystery Girl was listed at number 2 (its peak position there), as the compilation The Legendary Roy Orbison was at number 3.
In his contemporary review for the Chicago Tribune, David Silverman lamented that, given the expectations caused by Orbison's death, "the publicity and fanfare have threatened to cheapen the album, reducing it to novelty status while directing attention away from its rightful distinction as one of Orbison's finest works – a comeback to match his legendary status." Silverman especially admired "Dream You" and said that the only weak track was "The Comedians", where "the openly rancorous story" was unsuitable for such "an unrequited romantic" as Orbison. By contrast, New York Times critic Stephen Holden highlighted "The Comedians" as the album's "outstanding song", saying that it was a "witty parody" of Orbison's 1961 hit "Running Scared" that the singer had succeeded in transcending from mere homage due to his expressive vocal. Holden added that, throughout Mystery Girl, "the singing, songwriting and production do a superb job of bringing Orbison up to date without diluting his haunted hyper-romantic fervor." The Deseret News' reviewer described it as a "great, great album" that sealed Orbison's comeback after the Traveling Wilburys' recent success and reinforced what a true loss his death was to popular music. The reviewer admired Orbison's ability to work effectively with his collaborators and highlighted "You Got It" as an "exceptional single" and "She's a Mystery to Me" as "perhaps the best song on the album".
In May 2014, Mystery Girl was reissued in a 25th anniversary edition. It included bonus material such as demos and a new song, "The Way Is Love", which was completed by John Carter Cash and Orbison's sons from a cassette demo recorded in around 1986.
|1.||"You Got It"||Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty||Jeff Lynne||3:30|
|2.||"In the Real World"||Richard Kerr, Will Jennings||Roy Orbison, Mike Campbell, Barbara Orbison||3:44|
|3.||"(All I Can Do Is) Dream You"||Billy Burnette, David Malloy||T-Bone Burnett||3:39|
|4.||"A Love So Beautiful"||Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne||Jeff Lynne||3:33|
|5.||"California Blue"||Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty||Jeff Lynne||3:57|
|6.||"She's a Mystery to Me"||David Evans, Paul Hewson||Bono||4:16|
|7.||"The Comedians"||Elvis Costello||T-Bone Burnett||3:26|
|8.||"The Only One"||Wesley Orbison, Craig Wiseman||Roy Orbison, Mike Campbell||3:55|
|9.||"Windsurfer"||Roy Orbison, Bill Dees||Roy Orbison, Mike Campbell||4:01|
|10.||"Careless Heart"||Roy Orbison, Diane Warren, Albert Hammond||Roy Orbison, Mike Campbell||4:08|
|Bonus track (2007 reissue)|
|11.||"You May Feel Me Crying"||Richard Kerr, Will Jennings||Brian Eno||4:14|
|Bonus tracks (2014 Legacy Recordings reissue)|
|11.||"The Way Is Love"||Roy Orbison, Bill Dees||4:12|
|12.||"She's a Mystery to Me" (Studio demo)||Bono, The Edge||4:51|
|13.||"(All I Can Do Is) Dream You" (Studio demo)||Billy Burnette, David Malloy||4:34|
|14.||"The Only One" (Studio demo)||Wesley Orbison, Craig Wiseman||5:12|
|15.||"The Comedians" (Studio demo)||Elvis Costello||3:25|
|16.||"In the Real World" (Studio demo)||Richard Kerr, Will Jennings||3:38|
|17.||"California Blue" (Studio demo)||Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty||4:42|
|18.||"Windsurfer" (Work-tape demo)||Roy Orbison, Bill Dees||3:50|
|19.||"You Are My Love" (Work-tape demo)||Roy Orbison, Bill Dees||2:35|
- Roy Orbison – vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar on 1 2 4 5 8 10, electric guitar on 6
- Jeff Lynne – electric guitar on 1 5, acoustic guitar on 4, keyboards on 1 4 5, piano on 1, bass on 1 4 5, backing vocals on 1 4 5 9
- Tom Petty – acoustic guitar on 1 5, backing vocals on 1 2 5
- Mike Campbell – electric guitar on 2 10, acoustic guitar on 5 9 10, bass on 2 10, mandolin on 5
- Jim Keltner – drums on 2 6 7 8 9 10
- Howie Epstein – bass on 6 8 9, backing vocals on 2 8 9 10
- Benmont Tench – piano on 6 8 9 10, organ on 8, cheap strings on 6
- Phil Jones – drums on 1, percussion on 1
- Michael Utley – string arrangements on 1 2 7 9
- Barbara Orbison – backing vocals on 2
- Roy Orbison Jr. – backing vocals on 2
- Al Kooper – organ on 2
- Billy Burnette – acoustic guitar on 3, backing vocals on 3
- Rick Vito – electric guitar on 3, backing vocals on 3, slide guitar on 9
- Tom "T-Bone" Wolk – bass on 3
- Buell Neidlinger – arco bass on 3 7
- Mickey Curry – drums on 3
- George Harrison – acoustic guitar on 4
- Ray Cooper – drums on 4
- Louis Clark – strings arrangements on 4 5
- Ian Wallace – drums on 5, percussion on 5
- Bono – electric guitar on 6
- David Rhodes – electric guitar on 7
- T Bone Burnett – electric guitar on 7
- Mitchell Froom – piano on 7
- Jerry Scheff – string bass on 7
- David Miner – string bass on 7
- Gary Coleman – percussion on 7
- Steve Cropper – electric guitar on 8
- The Memphis Horns – horns by Jim Horn, arranged by Steve Cropper on 8
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1990||"You Got It"||Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male||Nominated|
|Canada (Music Canada)||3× Platinum||300,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||25,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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