Orbison, Roy - 1959 Uptown
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Orbison was one of the first recording artists to popularize the "Nashville sound", doing so with a group of session musicians known as the A-Team: guitarists Grady Martin, Harold Bradley, Fred Carter, Jr., and Ray Edenton; bassist Bob Moore; pianists Floyd Cramer or Hargus "Pig" Robbins; drummer Buddy Harman; and backup vocals by the Jordanaires or the Anita Kerr Singers.
The Nashville sound was developed by producers Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley (who worked closely with Patsy Cline), Sam Phillips and Fred Foster. In his first session for Monument in Nashville, Orbison recorded a song that RCA had refused, "Paper Boy", backed by "With the Bug", but neither charted.
According to musician and author Albin Zak, the studio (with sound engineer Bill Porter, who experimented with close miking the doo-wop backing singers), the production by Foster, and the accompanying musicians gave Orbison's music a "polished, professional sound ... finally allow[ing] Orbison's stylistic inclinations free rein".
To augment the Nashville sound, Orbison requested a string section in the studio. With this combination, he recorded three new songs, the most notable of which was "Uptown", written with Joe Melson. Impressed with the results, Melson later recalled, "We stood in the studio, listening to the playbacks, and thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world."
The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll states that the music Orbison made in Nashville "brought a new splendor to rock", and compared the melodramatic effects of the orchestral accompaniment to the musical productions of Phil Spector.
"Uptown" reached only #72 on the Billboard Top 100.