Olivia Newton-John

Greatest Hits [MCA]

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Olivia Newton-John has had many greatest-hits compilations over the years. Since she is due for a renaissance, it will be valuable to distinguish between the ones available. Greatest Hits was first released in 1977, and compiles her early country material that predates her mainstream pop breakthrough. Three things not found anywhere on this album are the words Xanadu, "Physical," or Grease. MCA re-released this album in 1982 as the re-titled Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits so they could dedicate a second volume to the artist's mainstream radio hits. Unfortunately, the label decided to cut four songs and only add one. The cut tracks are: "Let Me Be There," "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)," "Banks of the Ohio," and a cover of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." The only song on Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits but not Greatest Hits is "Something Better to Do." So to sensitive music critics (and Olivia Newton-John fans), Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits is a disappointing and poor album, not because the material is bad, but because of misguided judgment by the label. This is somewhat moot now. On September 11, 2001, Universal released Magic: Very Best of Olivia Newton-John, which basically combines the two volumes into one double-CD package, making it perhaps the definitive collection. But Olivia's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 was the best of the bunch for a long time (including the years when she was most popular). And remains the best choice for casual fans who only want the roller rink hits. However, all of these compilations are in print (except the 1977 collection) and (budget notwithstanding) are now lacking, if quantity of quality music is one's highest value. If you are deciding between the two "original" greatest hits albums, choose the original.

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