Xanadu (1980)

Olivia Newton-John: 1. Magic 2. Suddenly 3. Dancin' Round and Round 4. Suspended in Time 5. Whenever You're Away From Me Electric Light Orchestra: 6. I'm Alive 7. The Fall 8. Don't Walk Away 9. All Over the World 10.Xanadu


This album, the soundtrack to the movie, was half E.L.O. and half Olivia Newton-John. This was one of those not-so-rare instances where the music of a particular movie actually did better, and was better received, than the movie itself. Olivia Newton-John had just conquered the world of film/music with the blockbuster "Grease", so someone decided another somewhat similar vehicle should be next in line. To say the movie didn't live up to expectations is a tremendous understatement. I don't remember much of the plot, but it was some sort of fantasy where young kids were trying to save a Roller Disco. Yep.

All of this is irrelevant, since the music by E.L.O is not in anyway "thematic" to the plot. It's highly possible to listen to the four songs included by the group (five, if you count the title track which E.L.O. wrote and performed, but Olivia sings) and not have any recollection of the movie whatsoever. I doubt that the tunes (other than perhaps the title track) were even written with any "plot" in mind - they just scrape together some songs.

And they're all very good songs. I'm Alive and All Over the World were instant hits and were all over the radio at the time. The other two, The Fall and Don't Walk Away are just as exceptional. The title song was the band's first number one single (give them credit, even if Jeff Lynne doesn't sing lead vocal on it).

Strangely, the songs here are mostly ignored on the vast latter day greatest hits packages. Perhaps because they were written for the movie, they don't own the licensing? That would be a shame. The movie itself may have been an embarrassment, but the songs themselves are great. This was also the last of their albums to feature what many would describe as the "Classic E.L.O. sound". Sadly they were on their way down from here. The Olivia Newton-John stuff is pretty good as well. If you're a fan, that is.

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