Elvis Presley was already stoking teenage mayhem when a Texas rockabilly singer with little more on his résumé than a minor hit called “Ooby Dooby” signed to tiny Monument Records. ROY ORBISON had none of Presley’s charisma­—he was an odd-looking guy with almost paralyzing stage fright. Yet, armed with newfound artistic freedom, he let his imagination soar. THE MONUMENT SINGLES COLLECTION (1960–1964) (Sony/Legacy) compiles Orbison’s early hits and misses on two discs—in their original mono mixes for the first time on CD—and includes a DVD of a 1965 concert filmed for Dutch television. The concert highlights Orbison’s awkwardness. He was known for looking expressionless and standing stock-still, and the rest of his band followed suit. Even so, Orbison was by this point inspiring Beatlemania-like frenzy (the staid Dutch audience notwithstanding), which he accomplished solely with his music. His voice was a magnificent instrument: versatile, soaring, unafraid to exhibit high drama and vulnerability in a time of “1-2-3-4!” machismo. The CDs focus on his most fertile years, when one intricate, orchestrated hit followed another. “Only the Lonely,” “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Running Scared,” “In Dreams,” “Crying”—all were recorded without overdubs and produced 
with the vocals at the center of the mix (which is very noticeable in these mono versions). Back then, Orbison’s majestic mini-symphonies were unlike anything 
that had ever been heard on the radio. 
After all this time, that remains the case.