|First posted 10/14/2020.|
Electric Light Orchestra
Released: June 27, 1980
Peak: 4 US, 2 UK, 4 CN, 16 AU
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 3.07 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (Performer) (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 41:34
3.529 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)
About the Album:
I turned 13 in 1980. That meant, among other things, that my musical tastes were just beginning to form and that my hormones were just beginning to stir. Even in my early adolescence, I was able to see that a roller-skating fantasy movie starring Olivia Newton-John was a laughable idea. After the monstrous success of Grease, it was a no-brainer to put ONJ in another music-fuelled movie, but this was not the right choice.
Regardless of how bad the movie was, I was head-over-heels infatuated with ONJ. I also was just becoming enamored with pop radio and becoming one of the record-buying public. As a child of the ‘80s, I started out with eight-tracks before moving to cassettes and eventually CDs, but the soundtrack to Xanadu held a special place in my personal music history as my first cassette purchase.
Musically, the soundtrack sounded like an idea as bad as the movie. Half were songs by Olivia Newton-John and half by Electric Light Orchestra. What act of lunacy drove anyone to think it was a good idea to pair an Australian country-turned-pop singer with a prog-rock-oriented British rock band? Critical reviews aside, the record-buying public anointed the project with its approval. Five singles from the album reached the top 20 in the U.S., including the #1 song Magic. Six songs hit the top 40 in the UK, including the #1 title song, which paired ONJ and ELO.
In addition to that collaboration, Olivia duets with “British luminary Cliff Richard” AMG on Suddenly, a song which “seems better than most love themes.” AMG Whenever You’re Away from Me puts her together with Gene Kelly, who gave his final film performance in this movie, capping an outstanding career with a career lowlight. The oddest mix, however, is “the doomed swing/rock hybrid Dancin’,” AMG which the “appearance of the Tubes almost saves…but the two styles should never meet.” AMG
In addition to the title cut, ELO served up three more charting singles with I’m Alive, All Over the World, and Don’t Walk Away. The latter song and “The Fall stand as two of Jeff Lynne’s finest.” AMG
This was definitely a work tied to a specific era and it doesn’t hold any long-term value beyond nostalgia. However, if you were 13-years-old and in love with pop radio and Olivia Newton-John, this is a work which, however laughable, will always hold a special place.
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