Olivia Newton-John

Olivia's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2

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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. Olivia's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 was first released in 1982 (and on CD in 1988) and obviously followed Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits (MCA). But by that time the world had already seen two such albums. In fact, MCA released an album simply titled Greatest Hits in 1977 and then Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits in 1982. The differences between the two first volumes is clear: the 1977 one has 12 tracks while the 1982 one only has nine. The four songs not contained on the latter 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." Clearly the label wanted to sell more records, so Olivia's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 was a way of expanding her compilations without releasing a simple double album. None of the four songs not included in the 1982 version are on volume two, which is disappointing. What is included are the most popular Olivia Newton-John songs, including "Heart Attack," "Magic," "Physical," "Hopelessly Devoted to You," "You're the One That I Want," "Suddenly," and "Xanadu." Most fans of her early-'80s pop will want Olivia's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 over Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits. But the earlier work will be of interest to the fan with more than a casual interest in her greatest hits. Those who have Xanadu, Physical, and the soundtrack to Grease basically have all the songs here, in which case they should go for the good Newton-John material they don't have. And if deciding between the two first volumes, listeners should choose the out-of-print Greatest Hits. On September 11, 2001, Universal released Magic: The 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 Newton-John was most popular). And it remains the best choice for casual fans who only want the roller-rink hits.

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