September 10, 2018

Olivia Newton-John: Top Ten and Beyond

What hasn't been said about Olivia Newton-John? Not only does she seem to be one of the nicest musical artists of the last several decades, her artistry goes far beyond what meets the eye. Here's a look at some of my favorites, Top Ten and More:

"Deeper Than A River" (1992): Though long past her hit making days, this country tinged ballad had all the right elements- and it had me looking once again at a vocalist I'd mostly forgotten at that point in time. Sometimes an artist's most interesting work is when they've moved on from Pop Radio hits.

"Suddenly" (1980): Yes, Cliff Richard and Olivia together. Always a winning combination.

"I Can't Help It" (1980): This duet with the Bee Gees younger brother, the late Andy Gibb. It unexpectedly draws you in.  It's the perfect match of breathy vocals from both and a very delicate but simply effective arrangement. A piece of perfect late night ear candy I still listen to on my I pod. Made my very long and lonely evening drives on a delivery route all the more enjoyable.

"Hopelessly Devoted to You" (1978): Did you expect I'd leave this out? No way! The Grease solo smash- still love it to this day. You just have to not like music to not appreciate the retro coolness of this record.

"Dancin'" (1980): This 40's meets 80's blend with punk rockers The Tubes shocked me upon first watch at the movies (Xanadu). But I just loved it immediately. Layer upon layer of Olivia vocals with a swinging beat and big band style. Guilty perfection. Who could ask for more! (Well, maybe a full version of the song with The Tubes edited out?!?)

Friends Olivia and Karen. 
Just imagine their once talked about duet!

"Summertime" (2004): From the Indigo-Women of Song project, an album often overlooked in her lengthy collection. I had wrongly thought we needed to leave the basement register vocals to Olivia's friend Karen Carpenter. I was wrong. Olivia hits bottom in a good way, and the end result is a perfectly respectable take on an American classic. A very nice listen than holds its own with all the other versions. 

"Make A Move On Me" (1981): From the Physical album. The keyboard works hard against a spunky and convincing Olivia begging for something better to do- "Won't you spare me all the charms, and take me in your arms." This song had men everywhere getting in line to take her up on the offer.

"Dancin' Round and Round" (1978): From the first album post-Grease, Olivia threw in this gentle country cut. She didn't leave old fans behind, she just brought new ones along with this newest release. All around a Totally Hot album.

"Lovers" (1975): To some, this was a toss away song and album. Yet this quiet tale of the effects of love lost was quite mature in the midst of songs about puppies, brotherly devotion, and summer love. It still holds up to this day.

"The Way You Look Tonight" (1989): After the failed attempt at cashing in once too many times on the nice-girl-gone-bad image (Soul Kiss), Olivia returned to a nice girl as a new mommy. The home project brought her one of her most beautiful albums, Warm and Tender. Nice, very nice.

"I Honestly Love You" (1974 and 1998) Both versions are classic. We all know the original, but with Babyface playing and singing in the background, their remake is just as great. Dare I say that the 1998 video is even better than the original?  

"You're the One That I Want" (1978): I couldn't help it. It's pure fun, pure magic- and who can resist singing along with the chorus?  C'mon. You know you want to.

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