Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by a CD.
"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree." When Coleridge wrote those lines in 1798, he had no idea that he'd be giving us the names of the 1980 movie Xanadu and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 1984 album, Welcome To The Pleasuredome. We'll get to FGTH later, but today it's all about Xanadu.
Ah, Olympian muses, roller skating discos, Gene Kelly, a Don Bluth animation sequence, and LA's Pan-Pacific Auditorium (see pic below). Such is the magic of Xanadu, one of life's true guilty pleasures. The movie, which is fun to revisit every few years, received a fantastic succinct movie review from Esquire magazine: a single sentence that read... "In a word, Xana-don't"!
While, admittedly, this roller disco movie was bad, the soundtrack brings back good memories for those of us that were ELO fans around that time. I'm not certain, but I'm fairly sure I had the soundtrack before I saw the movie at Bay Cinema 4. The LP had an ONJ side and an ELO side, but there are plenty of guest appearances as well. While I remember all the songs and sing along with all of them, some of them aren't very good. They probably weren't good 31 years ago either, but what did I know then? Now, looking at the album as a whole, there are about 5 decent songs out of 10.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #4
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #1 (1 week)
- Magic - ONJ: A great summer song. All of ONJ's songs were written by her longtime collaborator John Farrar. This is one of his better songs. The third biggest single of 1980.
- Suddenly - ONJ with Cliff Richard: Great ballad. I can sing both the melody and harmony parts if you need that sort of thing.
- Dancin' - ONJ with The Tubes: We really don't need a big band song that segues then meshes with a rock song. In 1980, I was still a year or two away of knowing who The Tubes were.
- Suspended in Time - ONJ: A fairly bland ballad along the lines of Hopelessly Devoted To You from Grease. This song brought the pacing of the movie to a screeching halt (as if that movie needed any help with that).
- Whenever You're Away From Me - ONJ with Gene Kelly: Poor Gene Kelly. This was to be his last movie. A better dancer than singer, he doesn't do too bad a job here with bad material.
- I'm Alive - ELO: Solid ELO effort. The first song heard in the movie when the muses in the mural come alive. I'm told that included in the song's closing coda is Morse code which spells out ELO, but I don't know Morse code so I can't confirm that.
- The Fall - ELO: Typical ELO filler track. Not much here to like or hate.
- Don't Walk Away - ELO: A horrible, plodding song made worse by the memory that this is the background music for the awful animation sequence in the movie.
- All Over The World - ELO: Classic ELO track with disco strings, bad backup vocals, and Jeff Lynne's falsetto.
- Xanadu - ELO & ONJ: While the song is good, you have to listen to it in the context of the movie's finale. Gene Kelly on rollerskates!
- I'm Alive
- All Over The World
- Suspended In Time
- Whenever You're Away From Me
- The Fall
- Don't Walk Away
Around the time of its release, I won a KIOX radio trivia contest for naming 5 cities mentioned in the ELO single, All Over The World. I think I won a t-shirt that I never picked up.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Olivia Newton-John - Best of (2002)
Electric Light Orchestra - Discovery (1979)
Electric Light Orchestra - ELO's Greatest Hits (1979)