The late, lovely Olivia Newton-John has a new album – sort of.
Just The Two Of Us The Duets Collection Volume One is out this week, and you can find it at Amazon and JB Hi-Fi (and your local record store, if it still sells CDs.)
As you might guess, this gathers together a stack of Olivia’s more iconic duets from across her career.
There’s been lots of publicity around Olivia’s duet with Dolly Parton on ‘Jolene’, which launched in February as a teaser for the album (and is one of just two freshly-recorded tracks for it, the other being a version of ‘I Honestly Love You’ backed by pianist Jim Brickman).
That song is one of Dolly’s best-known compositions, but in Australia Olivia’s version was a bigger hit, reaching #29 in 1978. (The original was added to the bonus Australian tour disc for Olivia’s 1992 hits compilation Back To Basics when it was reissued in 1998, fact fans.)
This isn’t Olivia’s first duets record. Back in 2002, she released (2), which contained brand-new duet recordings, mostly with Australian artists. Tracks with Tina Arena, Michael McDonald and Richard Marx from that project make it onto the new album.
Also included is ‘True To Yourself’, a duet with Vanessa Amorosi that was recorded for (2) but didn’t appear because of the usual record company BS. So that’s a new track too, if not really a new recording.
Another Olivia duet album is her 2012 Christmas album This Christmas, in which she pairs up with frequent co-star John Travolta. This album may well qualify for the scariest-ever cover on a holiday record:
Speaking of Travolta, the new compilation also has a few movie tracks:
- ‘Suddenly’ with Cliff Richard from Xanadu
- ‘Face To Face’ with the very same Mr Travolta from Two Of A Kind
- ‘Love Is A Gift’ with Delta Goodrem from the TV miniseries Olivia: Hopelessly Devoted To You
But enough about what’s on there (the full track listing is at the end of this article if you’re curious). Given that this is Volume One, what might we expect on Volume Two?
What will be on Just The Two Of Us Volume Two?
The obvious missing element is either of the iconic John Travolta duets from Grease, ‘You’re The One That I Want’ and ‘Summer Nights’. Licensing those might be pricey though. For the 2018 compilation Hopelessly Devoted: The Hits, live versions were used instead.
In the same vein, ‘Xanadu’ with ELO from Xanadu (natch) would seem like a must-have. Less obvious potential candidates from the same flick are ‘Whenever You’re Away From Me’ with Gene Kelly and ‘Dancin” with The Tubes.
Obviously more tracks from (2) could be extracted. The most likely candidates would be duets with Keith Urban and Darren Hayes, the biggest international stars left off Volume One.
Digging deeper, I’d like to see ‘You Were Great, How Was I?’, a duet with the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson from 1985’s unfairly maligned Soul Kiss, make an appearance.
The same goes for The Rumour, co-written and co-produced by Elton John for the album of the same name. That wasn’t officially promoted as a duet, despite Elton’s prominent vocals, but that could also be said of Barry Gibb’s ‘Face To Face’, which is on Volume One. The promo single for that track said ‘(Duet with Olivia Newton-John)’ but didn’t include a picture of her. Maybe they could dig out Elton’s demo and create a more fully-formed duet.
It seems unlikely that we’ll see any Christmas duets with Travolta or with John Farnham from 2016’s Friends For Christmas, or any of the handful of duets from Olivia’s solo seasonal albums ‘Tis The Season (2000) and Christmas Wish (2007). But maybe they’ll all be lumped together for Volume Three?
My inner cynic suspects there will be at least one new recording, to ensure more folks get on board. Time will tell.
Olivia Newton-John Just The Two Of Us Volume One: Full track listing
- Suddenly (with Cliff Richard)
- Jolene (with Dolly Parton)
- Act Of Faith (with Michael McDonald)
- Window In The Wall (with Chloe Lattanzi)
- Take A Chance (with John Travolta)
- Put Your Head On My Shoulder (with Paul Anka)
- Face To Face (with Barry Gibb)
- I Honestly Love You (with Jim Brickman)
- The Best Of Me (with David Foster)
- True To Yourself (with Vanessa Amorosi)
- Lost Inside Your Heart (with Jon Secada)
- I’ll Come Runnin’ (with Tina Arena)
- Never Far Away (with Richard Marx)
- How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (with Kelly Lang)
- Stone In My Pocket (with Amy Sky & Beth Nielsen Chapman)
- Love Is A Gift (with Delta Goodrem)
- Hopelessly Devoted To You (with Mariah Carey)