Sweet music between Olivia and Sir Cliff
by Craig Mathieson
OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (FMR) - 7/10
As the latest Australian Idol winner, Kate DeAraugo, puts the finishing touches to her hastily produced debut album, she could do worse than turn to this quality retrospective for inspiration. Round my way growing up she was known as Olivia Neutron Bomb and a careful sampling of ‘Gold’ proves that the nickname was not far off the mark.
Picking up in the late 70’s, when the England-born and Australia-raised singer moved from the country scene to the pop mainstream in America, it holds classics and hidden gems. Newton-John had a sweet voice and she could knock out hit ballads like ‘I Honestly Love You’ with ease, but the best moments here play against type: ‘Totally Hot’ is pure disco narcissism, ‘Physical’ is a new-wave touchstone begging for a contemporary mash-up and ‘A Little More Love’ is Hollywood Hills despair.
There are live takes of the ‘Grease’ hits, which are annoying ’50s pastiches, as well as the infamous ‘Xanadu’ theme, but if it took ‘Boogie Nights’ to make Rick Springfield and ‘Jessie’s Girl’ cool, someone send Tarantino a copy of ‘Magic’. It’s a sultry, powerful single from an album that challenges easy expectations.