A Superb Cover – and an Amazing Original

| March 27, 2022

Got back from a long road trip a couple of days ago. And yeah, I guess that means this article is a musical “walkabout”.

You have been warned. (smile)

. . .

I’ve previously discussed the Rolling Stones here at TAH. And yes, during the trip they were one of the artists whose music helped pass the miles.

But I’m not going to talk about the Stones today – at least, not directly. Rather, listening to their music reminded me of something I’d run across a few weeks ago.

It’s a cover of their tune Sympathy for the Devil – the tune that literally began what many critics consider the Stones heyday. (And I do mean literally: it’s the first track on their 1968 release Beggar’s Banquet). Stones’ fans might consider this heresy, but I’ll say it anyway: IMO the cover is actually a better performance than the iconic original.

The cover is by Brian Ferry – formerly lead singer for Roxy Music, and an accomplished vocalist. It dates from the early/mid 1970s, during a time when Ferry also was recording solo work.

A studio version can be found here. While it’s good, the production and extensive reverb on that version is something I find distracting.

But a live version from 1974 – recorded at the Royal Albert Hall – also exists and is IMO better. Here ya go.



To paraphrase one writer’s comparison: Jagger’s Lucifer sounds like he’s ready to impale you with his pitchfork. But Ferry appears to have understood the assignment – and the character he’s voicing – better.

. . .

OK, switching gears. Another artist that helped pass the miles was a late musician from Texas: Roy Kelton Orbison.

Now, I’m rather a latecomer regarding Orbison’s music; I wasn’t that familiar with his work earlier in my life. But recently a friend provided me recordings of some of his earlier tunes, and afterwards I acquired one of his late-career albums. As a result, I became interested in his work.

It was certainly worthwhile. Why? Because of his music . . . and his voice.

Regarding Orbison’s voice: pick any superlatives you like. Whatever you choose, it won’t be sufficient. His voice was simply . . . amazing. Unlike many, it didn’t degrade much if at all between his early years and his death. And the music he wrote is nearly as good – and also has aged very, very well.

I won’t focus on the details of Orbison’s life and career in this article (though I may do a future article on the man). Wikipedia’s article on him gives the bare-bones version of his life story, and a number of biographies and other sources exist that provide more details. I will say this much: in many respects, Orbison’s life reminds me somewhat of a modern-day version of the Biblical Book of Job.

What I will discuss – briefly – is some of his late career work.

Orbison died suddenly, of a heart attack, in December 1988. He was 52. At the time, he was in the middle of a very rare (in the rock and roll world) late-career renaissance.

When he died, Orbison had just completed a new studio album. His friend (and Traveling Wilburys bandmate) Jeff Lynne had produced it.

It was scheduled to be released in January 1989; it was. It was named Mystery Girl.

It is absolutely wonderful.

Two tunes follow; they open and close the original version of the album. (You might have heard the first, which was a hit in many countries.) And IMO there are at least three more tracks on the album that hold their ground when compared to nearly anything Orbison had done previously in his career.

Fair warning: if you’re not familiar with Orbison’s work, you may find his music and voice affects you more strongly than you expect. That’s particularly true if you’ve ever been in a situation similar to that about which he’s singing. The vocals are indeed exquisite, and the man was an absolute master at painting a wrenching emotional picture in 3 to 5 minutes of song. Having a tissue handy might be worthwhile while listening, especially for the second tune below.




Gone far too soon. RIP, Mr. O.

. . .

OK, that’s it; walkabout’s over. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Category: Pointless blather, Who knows

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Good picks. Roy Orbison… {cue rambling story that goes nowhere} There was a local radio station here in the CT River Valley that used to play oldies in the 80s, which meant music from the 50s and early 60s. Other than some contemporary artists, Janet Jackson and her alter ego Michael come to mind, I didnt care for shit else on the pop radio stations.

My father turned to me one day with a bit of glee in his eye, knowing that I liked Mister O, and said, “You wanna say up late to watch SNL? Roy Orbison will be on and your mother will be very much asleep”.

Thanks Dad for raising me right. (Sorry it didn’t take)


Good tunes there Hondo and yep, I’ll agree with you, sometimes the cover is way yonder better than the original, live version. Might have something to do with the foreign substances that the name brand band was ingesting “on the job”. My decades of being a road warrior necessitated me having a large and varied assortment of tunes in the case. Most commercial radio stations play the same “top songs” of a group over and over and over and over and over.

Roy would have gone far in his career revival, you’re right there, too. Taken from us too soon. The selection of “You Got It” tells how many of us here feel about our most favored Adorable Deplorable, OAM. jes’ sayin’. And love or hate The South, you gotta admit, we do produce the best of anything. Music, weather, real estate, FOOD, football teams…need I go on? Despite damyanky propaganda, ever hear of anyone retiring and moving north?


Yep, roger all the above Hondo. Down heah, we consider Texas as being part of the South…well…’cept for Austin. And you gotta get out of the Metro Areas in other “Southern States” to find that true Southern Hospitality. And yep, Curry don’t need a bucket to carry a tune.

And I remember well the day the music died.

Steve 1371

Really like Roy Orbison. Another Texan and great musician is Radney Foster who put out “Del Rio Texas 1959”. My favorite song on that great album is “Luisiana Blue”. Really worth a listen.