The Monument Singles Collection



Now that vinyl has made its comeback, why not mono? Stereo sound vanquished its single-channel predecessor decades ago, but some stubborn souls never stopped touting the merits of mono—its punch, its clarity and the fact that for music made through the mid-’60s it was the dominant format and therefore the truest reflection of the artists’ intent. The Beatles, for example, were typically present for mono mixes but didn’t bother to attend stereo mixing sessions until late in their career—and when their mono catalog was reissued two years ago, modern fans could at least listen and compare with relative ease. Bob Dylan’s mono recordings saw CD and digital re-release last year, John Mellencamp chose to record his most recent album in mono, and now we have this box set offering up the late Roy Orbison’s 1960s singles in their single-channel splendor.

Still, does the difference in sound make this particular version of songs that have already been released and re-released many times worth owning? For Orbison completists, the answer is clearly yes. The first disc offers up the singer’s Monument Records A-sides, and the difference between these versions and the more familiar stereo versions are at the very least informative. Unfortunately, the relegation of the accompanying B-sides to a second disc makes the first feel all too much like yet another Orbison best-of. A DVD fills out the set with a 25-minute concert from 1965 that finds Orbison playing to an almost comically undemonstrative audience in Holland. –CN

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