Last night, I enjoyed a date night where we watched a Lifetime movie. The movie was a two-hour recap of singer Olivia Newton-John’s life and career, starring Australian singer Delta Goodrem as Olivia. And although parts of the movie were quite interesting, there were times when the story seemed rushed – character introduced in Olivia’s life, romantic moment, character leaves, this tragedy happens, that triumph over tragedy happens, etc. – the movie did allow me to remember what I liked about Olivia Newton-John’s voice and music.
The fact is, her voice was very soothing and calming, and she had a great way with ballads and with uptempo songs.
So on today’s K-Chuck Radio – let’s take a moment and share some classic and rare Olivia Newton-John music, shall we?
UNTIL YOU SAY YOU’LL BE MINE
This is Olivia’s first-ever recording, back when she was 17 years old and had just won a singing contest – this was her prize, a single recorded in London. The track is quite rare, and it’s hard to hear her rise above the Spectropop orchestration. But let’s face it – this song was better suited for a Darlene Love or a Ronnie Spector anyway.
IF NOT FOR YOU
Now this completely works. Take a Bob Dylan song, give it a steel pedal guitar treatment, and let Olivia’s voice shine through. Much better. Trust me on this.
BANKS OF THE OHIO
And that other element of Olivia’s early hits – that bass voice as a counterpoint to her soprano was performed by Mike Sammes, and you’d hear his voice in future Olivia songs as well, including …
LET ME BE THERE
Not much more needs to be said, other than Olivia’s now making herself a presence on the worldwide charts and it’s a good presence, for sure.
I HONESTLY LOVE YOU
A few blog posts ago, I griped that Olivia didn’t need to re-record this track – in that her original 1970’s version was spot-on perfect. Take a listen and you know I’m right.
PLEASE MR. PLEASE
I’m jumping to this track in that it’s around the time when Olivia was not only a force on the pop charts, but she was cracking through to the country music world as well. All you Taylor Swift fans, take note. This is what country music in the 1970’s sounds like.
COME ON OVER
I think at this point in time – with songs like “Come On Over” and “Have You Never Been Mellow” and the like – Olivia Newton-John could have walked up to a microphone, sang a grocery shopping list, and it would have hit #1 in three weeks.
FLY AWAY (John Denver with Olivia Newton-John)
In the 1970’s, Olivia Newton-John and John Denver were two of the biggest crossover artists – they could appear on the pop charts and the country charts simultaneously. Here’s the one time they teamed up, with Olivia complimenting John’s lyrics and orchestration. Awesome.
YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT
What people don’t realize about the movie musical Grease is that there were several songs that were added to the movie that WEREN’T in the original Broadway play, including this track – as well as one other ONJ-specific track…
HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU
Yeah, it’s Sandy singing the song, but it’s Olivia and her 1970’s orchestrations – including that iconic steel pedal guitar – that totally make this song special.
If you ignore that this was part of a godawful movie musical and just examine it as an early music video where Olivia partners with the Electric Light Orchestra, it’s not bad.
Okay, this isn’t the comedic “aerobicize” video we all know, but hey if I can find something different out there, I will. This is K-Chuck Radio, and I control the playlist. 😀
Got a couple more tracks that I want to share that I hope you like.
IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP (with John Farnham)
John Farnham is an Australian superstar, his track “You’re the Voice” was a major international hit. Here he is with Olivia in a special concert in Melbourne in 2015 as they rock through the classic AC/DC hit. I don’t think Bon Scott would disapprove much.
TENTERFIELD SADDLER (with Peter Allen)
And let’s close with Olivia duetting with the legendary Peter Allen on Allen’s autobiographical hit. Just impressive and amazing and awesome.
I should note that Olivia Newton-John – as a survivor of breast cancer – has donated her money and time to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Treatment and Wellness Centre, and if you would also like to make a donation to that worthwhile charity, a link is provided here.
Meanwhile, I’m going to have a nice mellow day –
Oh wait, I can’t have a mellow day –
Unless I play this mellow ONJ song. Right?