on September 30, 1999
The biggest problem with Olivia Newton-John's catalog is out of the albums are out of print. Only two of the nine albums, not including soundtrack, from the pre-Physical period are still available on American catalogs. BACK TO BASICS gives us the golden nuggets from Olivia's career. Most of the biggest hits of Olivia's catalog are included "Physical", "You're The One That I Want", "Magic", "Have You Never Been Mellow", and "I Honestly Love You" are included. Unfortunately, BACK TO BASICS is not an essentials collection due to the fact that many major hits "Let Me Be There" and "Make A Move On Me" and important songs "If Not For You" are not included. In order to make the album a true retrospective collection you would need songs that demonstrated where Olivia was at the time "Come On Over" is every bit as important a song in her catalog as "Sam". Impressive performances like "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and "Suddenly" (a duet with Cliff Richard from XANADU) are overlooked. In order to make it a complete package there should have been at least one song from each album present. The four new songs belong on this package. "Deeper Than A River" is beautifully produced and arranged and Olivia's voice is magnificent. "Not Gonna Be The One" has classic vocal styles and is sung by a musical master. "I Want To Be Wanted" is a vocal performance equal to many f her best love songs, you can hear the emotion in her voice. "I Need Love" is a revival of her days of PHYSICAL, TOTALLY HOT, and SOUL KISS. "Twist Of Fate", "Deeper Than The Night", and "Summer Nights" make their first apperances on American Hits albums. BACK TO BASICS is the perfect collection for Olivia introduction because it shows how varied her career is. For longtime fans, its a good collection, but the original Austrailan versions are ore comprehensive and complete.-MATT COKER
on August 28, 1999
At first, I was surprised that this greatest hits only had 12 songs on it. That is because I'm used to "Greatest Hits" CDs that are half crap filler songs. This CD clocks in at a cool 50 minutes and you get hit after hit. I'm surprised how much care seems to have been put into this collection since I read Sammy basically released it to fulfill a contract obligation. This compiliation is primarily from his four mega-successful mid 80's solo albums when he left behind kinda silly party anthems like "Cruisin' & Boozin" and "Trans Am Wonderland" for more intelligent tunes like "I'll Fall in Love Again" and "Two Sides of Love". Of course, there are plenty of tunes to bang your head and do air guitar to like "Heavy Metal", "One Way to Rock", and "I Don't Need Love". Minor complaint, I would replace "Buying My Way Into Heaven" with "VOA". Otherwise, rock solid.
on May 29, 2000
I was glad to see a CD that, at least partially, combines the previously-available Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 to span Olivia's entire career. I wish Geffen hadn't limited the selection to 13 hits (plus 4 increasingly-less-"new" songs); however, I'd say they picked most of the best 13. I was pleased to see "Deeper Than The Night" and "Sam" among the more-famous songs, but all of these are wonderful. (Note: I was 13 when "Grease" came out. I may not be objective.) It pained me to see "I Need Love" stop at the bottom of the pop chart; produced by Giorgio Moroder (producer of most of Donna Summer's classic hits), it had a great sound and lyric ("I'm not looking for a Band-aid on loneliness...").
Olivia deserves a 2-disc set. Import versions of this CD include "The Rumour" (fantastic; written by Elton John) and "If Not For You", among others. The latter's exclusion from the U.S. version is peculiar because it's actually from 1971. Its absence means this CD should be called "Essential...'74-'92".
Also among the missing are "Let Me Be There", "Make A Move On Me", "Heart Attack", "Xanadu" (with E.L.O.), "Soul Kiss", "Livin' In Desperate Times", "Don't Stop Believin'", "Suddenly" (with Cliff Richard), and a bunch more. Maybe someday these will turn up on an "Essential Collection, Vol. 2". This is why I kept my vinyl...
Despite starting with folk and country roots, Olivia Newton-John came to the forefront with her relocation to North America and retooled herself to more pop standards, despite winning a Grammy for Best Country Female Vocal for "Let Me Be There." No, there was one more Grammy to be won, and that was Record of the Year (1974) for the tearful heartfelt piano and strings "I Honestly Love You," definitely the best song here.
That was from the If You Love Me, Let Me Know album, and the country title track is also included. The basso male backing vocalist provide a good balance with Olivia's winsome pop vocals.
As for the rest, it's the requisite collection of hits, of which there are plenty, as well as four new songs. The first one was penned and co-produced by Diane Warren, showing she has something in her magic pen for O N-J. "Deeper Than A River" belongs squarely in the 80's tradition of dreamy pop ballads, complete with synthesizers and strings.
"Not Gonna Be The One" could easily belong on one her Totally Hot album, as there are similarities to this and "A Little More Love." Produced by her longtime producer John Farrar.
Her cover of Brenda Lee's #1 hit, "I Want To Be Wanted,"--who doesn't want to be?--is my favourite of the four new songs here, showing her ability to put forth great ballads haven't diminished with her Grammy winner. And with Peter Asher (Peter of Peter and Gordon) as producer, how can she go wrong?
"I Need Love" is 80's soul/pop and synth fills set to a funky bass backbeat, with some monologue thrown in. In an ironic reference to an earlier hit, she sings that she holding out for something more than physical. Clearly it's something more permanent: "I'm not looking for a bandaid on loneliness." Aren't we all? And this is the most un-Moroder sounding Giorgio Moroder production I've heard.
In a twist of fate, many of her best-known songs turned out to be soundtrack hits. And because of that, N-J gets tarred with the epithet 70's cheese when many are asked to classify her. Two of them were from Grease, both duets with John Travolta. The bouncy "You're The One That I Want," penultimate number in the movie with the catchy bass setting the rhythm of the song, and a big hit in the US, spent nine weeks at the top in England. "Summer Nights," a song placed clearly in the musical genre, also went to #1 in the UK. The other #1, "Xanadu," is not on there, but "Magic" also from that movie, is.
Of the other movie tracks, the fast-paced pop of "Twist Of Fate," from Two Of A Kind, her second teaming up with Travolta, with its racing electropop bass synth and fuzzy guitar, definitely shows her staying power in 1983, and as far as this collection went, as material from Soul Kiss and The Rumour are excluded. The other, from Grease, is her soaring strings and steel guitar ballad, "Hopelessly Devoted To You," showing a mixture of pop and country instruments.
In the US, one of her last gasps at greatness was the smart and punchy title track to her "Physical" album, but singles like thatand lines like "let's get physical/let me hear your body talk" showed her embracing the naughty Sandy side of her. Small wonder the album cover, showing her flushed from an exercise workout, was mistaken for...well, physical things.
From Don't Stop Believin' (1976) comes the melting strings ballad "Sam." And from the previous year, "Have You Never Been Mellow?" taken from the album of the same name, was a leisure mid-paced number with strings, and showed Olivia adding her two cents to the feminist bandwagon: "someone else be strong" or "comfort from inside," reflecting the inner spotlight people began turning on in the 70's. Another song from that album is the country tune "Please Mr. Please," a pleading request to someone not to play a certain song for fear of being reminded of a past love.
Despite the subtitle 1971-1992, the earliest songs here date from 1974's If You Love Me, Let Me Know. For a first-time listen at Olivia, much recommended, and if you love her stuff, let me know. If not, let her be.
on April 27, 2013
What a great talent Olivia Newton-John is besides being a beautiful woman. This is a great CD because it has all of her old hits on it, including "Physical", "I Honestly Love You", "Hopelessly Devoted to You", "Magic", "Have You Never Been Mellow?" and "Please Mr. Please". I just love her voice. I've always been a big fan of hers. This CD never disappoints. Every song is great. I'm especially partial to "I Want to be Wanted", which I'd never heard her sing before I bought this CD. She's an exceptional talent with the voice of an angel. Every song has great arrangements and great vocals. This CD is A-one and definitely worth every penny.
on October 1, 2003
Unboxed is a great compliation of the best of Sammy Hagar's solo stuff from the '80s. Every track here is great, including the two new tracks. Whether it's radio-friendly hard rock ("Baby's On Fire", "Two Sides Of Love", "I'll Fall In Love Again"), heavier riff-based material ("Heavy Metal", "I Don't Need Love", "Three Lock Box") or ballads ("Give To Live", "Eagles Fly"), everything here is first rate. "I Can't Drive 55" and "There's Only One Way To Rock" are fantastic rock anthems, with the latter being one of the best concert opening songs ever. The two new songs "High Hopes" and "Buying My Way Into Heaven" are also strong with a great in your face production. So why not 5 stars? It's missing his biggest solo hit "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy", which granted is lightweight compared to the songs featured here, but still if included would make this album a near perfect collection of hard rock. Still, if there's one Sammy Hagar album to own, this is it.