Xanadu

Original Soundtrack

MCA, 1980

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/17/2007

When my grandmother passed away in 2006, thoughts about the way in which she impacted my life crossed my mind. Of all the things I remembered, it was her purchase of this cassette for me at a K-Mart in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that came to the forefront of my mind.

Its purchase easily was the greatest impact she made on my life -- it started my music collection. This was the first release I ever owned outright and, nearly 4,000 CDs, cassettes, 33s, 45s and music DVDs later, I smiled when I put it in my cassette player earlier this month.

The details surrounding how Grandma bought this for me are a bit fuzzy. I remember confusion between my mother, grandmother and I regarding what Grandma was supposed to buy me -- my mother thought a 45, I thought a cassette, Mom wasn't there so Grandma bought what I thought -- and when Mom found out I had a $12 cassette instead of a $3.00 45 record, I was required to pay my grandma back. For a 4th grader with no income, that was quite a chore. This all happened in the height of my 'go to the roller skating rink every Sunday' epoch of my life. The fact that I could listen to the songs on this record at home as well as at the rink was the reason I wanted this album. bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Kicking off with the hottie of the time, Olivia Newton-John, "Magic" is a straight-ahead sultry piece. It is followed by the love ballad "Suddenly," a duet with Cliff Richard. Following that is the pinnacle of this release and why, honestly, I enjoyed re-listening to this: the Tubes are showcased with "Dancin'." This song is an early example of the type of experimentalism I like in music to this day. The song starts out with a non-rock vibe, then toggles to an electric guitar that still kicks butt. The Tubes are the first hard rock on this release and come at the perfect time in the sequencing.

After "Dancin'" comes the song that I can still sing along to at a moment's notice. When my daughter was an infant, I'd try to sing this song to her while I would twirl her around. It is a beautiful big band tune called "Whenever You're Away From Me." Newton-John sings a duet with Gene Kelly, which turned out to be my introduction to an entire era gone by. The syncopation of the horn hits and the way their voices blend makes this still my favorite song on the album -- and the fact that Korn's Jonathan Davis listens to this song before he goes on stage hasn't ruined it for me.

Flipping the cassette over, ELO takes the spotlight. It doesn't surprise me now since ELO member Jeff Lynne is credited with being the producer of this disc. Starting out with their rocker "I'm Alive," "The Fall" follows. I remembered "Don't Walk Away" as a sappy ballad and revisiting it was painful, It's probably the worst song on this record. The saving grace of their contributions here is "All Over the World." I remember this would be one of the last songs played at the roller skating rink on those Sunday afternoons in 1980. Newton-John concludes things by joining ELO with the theme title.

I pulled this cassette out from one of my 11 boxes of cassettes I keep in the closet in the den. The tape is worn -- it actually quit playing in my player as I wrote this sentence. Still, every time I look at it, I think about how important it was in starting my musical path. The actual music makes me think of my grandmother and, for that, I have to say it is perfect.

Rating: A

User Rating: A

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Comments

by M. Ehret on December 17, 2007 12:54:02 AM
Paul: Xanadu is one of my favorites from that era, too. Although it is way past being my first purchase, I remember the soundtrack very fondly. In fact, I was thrilled to find it on iTunes -- and bought the whole thing. Great memories!
by sgecko on December 17, 2007 08:19:19 AM
Paul -- I absolutely loved this album as well. Of course, I had a huge crush on Olivia Newton-John at the time. :) I've also watched the movie numerous times as well.
My first album was The Police - Ghost in the Machine

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© 2007 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA, and is used for informational purposes only.