STUDIO SESSION FOR ROY ORBISON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1957
 
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: OCTOBER 16, 17, 19, 21 & 22, 1957
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS & JACK CLEMENT
MUSICAL DIRECTOR - BILL JUSTIS
 
Roy Orbison stayed in Memphis after the Teen Kings left. It was the studio rather than the stage that became his true medium. He worked sessions at Sun for other artists, performed on commercials and radio spots for Sam Phillips, and pitched one of his songs, ''So Long I'm Gone'', to Warren Smith. ''I don't think people know how good a guitar player Ray was'', said Phillips. ''He used the bass strings and played combination string stuff. He also had the best ear for a beat of anyone I recorded outside of Jerry Lee Lewis. If we had a session going, Roy would come in early and pick an awful lot just warming up and getting his fingers working. His timing would amaze me. He'd play lead and fill in with rhythm licks. I'd kid him and say, 'Roy, you're trying to get rid of the band and do it all yourself'. He just hated to lay his guitar down. He was either writing or developing a beat. He was totally preoccupied with making records''. 
 
It's hard to know how long Roy hung around Memphis. ''Basically I don't really have anything. I'd just love to stay in town'', he told Phillips. As Phillips remembered it, he said, ''No problem. Nobody around here's going to bed hungry. I don't usually invite my artist out to my house, I want to get away from you damn fools. I brought him to my house. This is when he brought Claudette in. I said, 'We can make room for her, too'. They weren't married at the time and they didn't sleep together. They stayed a long time''.
 
"FOOLS HALL OF FAME" - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Danny Wolfe
Publisher: - Golden West Music - Warner Chappell Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1957
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-14 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-1-11 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966
"A TRUE LOVE GOODBYE" - B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Norman Petty-Roy Orbison
Publisher: - Wren Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - October 1957
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-15 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-1-12 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966
"CHICKEN-HEARTED" - B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Roy Orbison-Bill Justis
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 282  - Master
Recorded: - October 1957
Released: - December 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 284-B mono
CHICKEN-HEARTED / I LIKE LOVE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-1-11 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3
The change in direction and the fuller sound did nothing to revive Orbison's sales, so Sun's new musical director, Bill Justis, gave Roy Orbison one of his first efforts at rock and roll compositions, "Chicken Heard". It was a novelty song, the quintessential nerd's lament. Roland Jones, who played guitar on the sessions, recalled that Orbison was bitterly unhappy with the material - and with good reason - but didn't complain.
 
"Chicken-Hearted", has always been a bit of an enigma to Sun and Orbison fans alike. More a sax instrumental (probably by Bill Justis rather than the credited Martin Willis) than a vocal track, it wails along in a groove that has survived the ravages of time rather well. The instrumental work is uniformly fine, including some excellent drumming by Otis Jett and driving piano work by one of Sun's resident Jimmys: either Wilson or Smith. When Orbison isn't singing, this is a well done, even typical late-1950s saxled instrumental that reminds one more of Duane Eddy or The Champs than the gang at 706 Union.
''CHICKEN-HEARTED" - B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Roy Orbison-Bill Justis
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Semi Spoken Vocal - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1956
Released: - 2001
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-2-5 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966
"I LIKE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Jack Clement
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 283  - Master
Recorded: - October 1957
Released: - December 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 284-A mono
I LIKE LOVE / CHICKEN-HEARTED
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-1-12 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3
 
Can this be the same Roy Orbison who became the operatic balladeer of the 1960s? However atypical of Orbison's later sound, "I Like Love" was as trite as its title suggests, rocks at a fine pace and the surprising sax  solo at the close following a run of piano triplets leads the song to a strong fade. Released in December 1957, the single was Orbison's last shot on Sun as a contracted artist.
"MEAN LITTLE MAMA" - B.M.I. - 1:55
Composer: - Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Undubbed Master - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1957
Released: - June 1988
First appearance: - Zu-Zazz Records (CD) 500/200rpm Z 2006 mono
PROBLEM CHILD
Reissued: - 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15461-15 mono
ROY ORBISON - THE SUN YEARS 1956 - 1958
"PROBLEM CHILD" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Roy Orbison
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Undubbed Master - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1957
Released: - June 1988
First appearance: - Zu-Zazz Records (CD) 500/200rpm Z 2006 mono
PROBLEM CHILD
Reissued: - 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15461-17 mono
ROY ORBISON - THE SUN YEARS 1956 - 1958
"PROBLEM CHILD" – B.M.I. - 2:26
Composer: - Roy Orbison
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1957
Released: - June 1988
First appearance: - Zu-Zazz Records (CD) 500/200rpm Z 2006 mono
PROBLEM CHILD
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-2-6 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Roy Orbison - Vocal and Guitar
Roland Janes - Guitar
Stan Kesler - Bass
Sid Manker - Bass October 22
Otis Jett - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano October 16
Jimmy Smith - Piano October 17
Bill Justis - Tenor Saxophone
C. Buehl - Unknown
 
Roy Orbison was disillusioned with the way Sam Phillips was handling his career as a recording artist. He was locked into recording rock and roll novelties and, with hindsight, would even come to look askance at Sun's primitive recording conditions. "We had to make do", he recalled. "I had to write the songs, sing the songs, arrange the songs, and play the guitar". Yet to Orbison it was that independence that, he would reflect later, enabled his musical ideas to start taking shape in his own mind - even if they never crystallized in the Sun studio. Many years later, he would say, "I'm glad now there was no one to call on". Perhaps he had a point; one of his favorite stories involved a warning from Jack Clement that he should stay away from ballads - that he would never make it as a ballad zinger.
 
 
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