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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Various Artists - 1980 Xanadu Soundtrack
Various Artists - 1980 Xanadu Soundtrack

ARTIST: Various Artists
ALBUM: Xanadu Soundtrack
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1998, MCA, MCAD-1185


LINEUP: Featuring: Electric Light Orchestra, Olivia Newton John, Cliff Richard, The Tubes, Gene Kelly

TRACK LISTING: 01 Magic * 02 Suddenly * 03 Dancin' * 04 Suspended In Time * 05 Whenever You're Away From Me * 06 I'm Alive * 07 The Fall * 08 Don't Walk Away * 09 All Over The World * 10 Xanadu

I saw 'Xanadu' when it debuted on the big screen in the summer of 1980 and enjoyed it although according to movie critics of the day that was not supposed to happen. What wasn't to like? A simple love story put to music between a frustrated album cover artist and an Olympian muse played by the red-hot Olivia Newton-John or was it the stellar soundtrack dominated by the Electric Light Orchestra? Yeah, the film was cheesy at times and the acting was hardly Oscar worthy but it was a winning combination for this reviewer who was never big on musicals or cared for critical favourites 'Casablanca' or 'Citizen Kane' and I wasn't alone apparently. While the film establishment went out of their way to slam the movie and rate it as one of the worst ever made, a substantial cult following began to develop which in recent years has turned 'Xanadu' into a lucrative franchise including a long-running Broadway show. I didn't see that coming back in 1980 but like the movie, the 'Xanadu' soundtrack has more than stood the test of time.

The Songs
Six singles were pulled from the album and all charted with no less than five hitting the top twenty in the U.S. were 'Magic' shot straight to number one and stayed for four weeks. What a song it is too with a sultry beat and John's cloying sensuality; it deserved its gold status and then some. The duet between Olivia and Cliff Richard I didn't care for at the time although in hindsight 'Suddenly' sounds so much better than similar pairings that became all the rage later in the decade. The Tubes juxtaposed with Newton-John's big band styling's on 'Dancin'' was a highlight of the movie and the song even without the visuals is a lot of fun although the album's hidden jewel is 'Suspended In Time'; a typical Olivia ballad and the sort of laid-back pop balladry that made her so very popular in the mid-70s. Wrapping up side one I probably could have done without the Disneyesque whistle solo and big band crooning of Gene Kelly who makes his one and only mention here at GD(!) with the second duet 'Whenever You're Away From Me'. Without a doubt the platter's low-point and it's on to the Electric Light Orchestra and what has to be one of their strongest album sides ever. This was still Jeff Lynne's disco period which is more than evident on 'I'm Alive' with its pounding backbeat and glittery synths and like 'Magic' the single turned solid gold. 'The Fall' is everything you could want from ELO, nothing new but pure class as is the dramatic 'Don't Walk Away' which was featured in the movie's animated sequence. 'All Over The World' is a hook-laden pop masterpiece and the title track with Newton-John's lead vocal is downright magnificent, closing out the album at its peak.

In Summary
Reissued on CD a couple times, from what I've heard the Australian version is the one to get for sound quality but either way you could do far worse than latching on to a copy of one of the 1980's most endearing soundtracks.

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#1 | jefflynnefan on September 11 2012 02:40:00
Jeff Lynne said in interviews about this album that he worked the hardest he's ever worked for these original songs for this soundtrack. I like all the songs including the ONJ ones except Xanadu. For some reason I've never warmed up to that song. JL later recorded a version of the song with his vocals. And there is a recently recorded broadway version of this soundtrack too. By various artists.
#2 | Eric on September 11 2012 02:59:10
Lynne's version of 'Xanadu' doesn't work as well as Olivia's in my opinion. Lacks the same sparkle and wait for it...Magic. There's a club locally that once a year has a big 'Xanadu' party similar to what we used to see with Rocky Horror.
#3 | jefflynnefan on September 11 2012 04:11:00
I agree ONJ makes the song work. She's a amazing vocalist. I can't figure out why JL wanted to re-record Xanadu with his vocals though of all songs. I would have preferred the song "One Way Love" that he wrote for Abba's Agnetha Faltskog or even the song "Poor Little Fool" the song he wrote for Helen Reddy.
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