|Review by compassionateman March 4, 2012
|A big hit album in Japan but an under-performer in the US where she was huge at the time, probably explains Come On Over being Olivia Newton-John's first SA CD release. It's not my favourite album of hers. She was only 27 when this was first released and really should have been producing livlier fare than Greensleeves and The Long And Winding Road.
Come On Over has had a fair few CD outings and has never sounded bad. It's far too well recorded and produced for that. This one, of course, is the best yet. It has a warm, vinyl like quality which really draws you in. I was 13 when the original vinyl album was released and never had the benefit of a high-end record deck so I didn't spend too much time getting to know it, generally preferring the perkier follow up, Don't Stop Believin'.
It wasn't until I got the first CD edition in 1986 (a bare-bones MCA pressing) that I really began to appreciate it's subtle beauty. Suddenly, previously dismissed tracks like Pony Ride and Small Talk And Pride sprang into life. This feeling obviously intensifies with this 2011 SA CD version. Olivia, always an under-rated vocalist, really sounds like she's singing these songs directly into your ear and the arrangements and production, by John Farrar, are suitably lush.
Highlights include Olivia's take on Dolly Parton's Jolene, a smash in Japan but not released as a single anywhere else. It's far more melody reliant than Dolly's original, and divides people's opinions as to whether it's superior to Parton's version. I've always loved it, not least because it's one of the few upbeat tracks on COO. Here it truly shines, though as someone once said, Olivia would appear to be 'Jolene' herself, rather than the woman singing the song!
The title track, a cover from the Bee Gees Main Course album, was the only single released in the US and UK is similarly successful featuring a stunning, husky vocal from ONJ, and Gary Benson's 1975 minor hit, Don't Throw It All Away, is majestic in Olivia's hands. Much covered It'll Be Me was a funkier taste of what was to come on albums a couple of years down the line and Olivia adapts well to the changes.
The sleeve artwork is gorgeous, reproduced in a fold-out cardboard display featuring the picture inner too. Another plus!
So, is Come On Over worth your time? I'd say tentatively yes. It's not her best work but it is quite lovely and her voice is surely at it's peak here. The SA CD upgrade is an expensive one but I'm glad I got it. There's no 5.1 mix, but I doubt this album would benfit much from it anyway.
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