Friday, November 10, 2006
Olivia Is Totally Hot
Olivia Newton-John is one of my very favourite artists and it was only a matter of time before I devoted a post to this fabulous woman. I'm constantly dismayed at the amount of people who only seem to know Olivia as Sandy from "Grease" or maybe as the leotard wearing tart who sang "Physical". It's almost as if that film and song are so iconic that everything before and after has been overshadowed. The tragedy is that Olivia has a back catalogue so jam-packed with pop gems that it would make most other divas blush with embarrassment. Most artists are considered legendary if they produce 5 great albums in a career. I can think of 15 Olivia Newton-John albums that I would rather sever a limb than go without!
As a result, a tawdry "Greatest Hits" compilation just wont do. Particularly given the fact that many of the true gems remained album tracks for reasons only known to Olivia. Today, I have decided to revisit what would definitely be one of Olivia's finest moments and one of the best pop albums of the 1970s - the divine "Totally Hot"!
Never has an album title so accurately reflected the content and the artist (well apart from Beyonce naming her latest album after a toilet - which is also an apt description of where those songs belong). These 10 songs are truly scorching. I would recommend "Totally Hot" as a starting place for any serious Olivia exploration. The album is varied, experimental and exquisitely produced by John Farrar. This is one of those albums that flows effortlessly from the melancholy disco sound of the brilliant opening track, "Please Don't Keep Me Waiting", to Olivia's rock orientated cover of "Gimme Some Lovin" that closes the album. Everything in between is equally exquisite. The album was re-mastered a couple of years ago and you can buy it from just about any online retailer. "Totally Hot" is a keeper, just be warned that this album is more addictive than heroin!
One of the joys of "Totally Hot" is the title track, which is an unusually upbeat, almost R'n'B influenced number. This is about the only Olivia song that I could imagine the likes of Tina Turner covering.
You can watch the hilarious video on youtube here. This is seriously funny stuff. I have no idea what Olivia mincing around a shopping mall has to do with the lyrics, while the amazing dirty dancing sequence in jeans THAT high-waisted must have surely caused Olivia and her partner internal injuries! I worship youtube for creating a forum that allows this kind of genius to be shared and re-discovered.
"Deeper Than The Night" was one of the biggest hits from the album and as an insanely catchy slice of guitar pop, it still holds up wonderfully well today. John Farrar's production is heavenly, the vocal layering was years ahead of its time.
You can also watch the video here. Once again, Olivia strikes music video gold.
The final song I'm sharing is my second favourite on the album behind "Please Don't Keep Me Waiting". Australia's biggest Olivia fan, Chris, tells me that "Boats Against The Current" is a cover version. I've never heard the original but I seriously doubt it could top the majesty of this bittersweet ballad about a dysfunctional relationship. It takes serious genius to incorporate "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" into a pop song without sounding completely ridiculous!
The images of the beautiful picture disc vinyls come from Only Olivia, a spectacular Olivia Newton-John fansite. I hope they don't mind me sharing them here. Check out their galleries for pages and pages of beautiful Olivia imagery.