Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"Soul Kiss" by Olivia Newton-John

Song#:  2489
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  63
Peak:  20
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Although Newton-John hadn't released a full solo studio album since 1981's Physical, she was still active on the charts grabbing four Top 40 entries including two Top 10's: the #3 hits compilation track "Heart Attack" and the #5 movie theme "Twist of Fate." With space finally cleared up in her schedule, Newton-John headed back to the studio with her long-time producer John Farrar to record the new album Soul Kiss. The title track was selected to be the first single and was issued out ahead of the LP. The song was making a steady climb up the chart and seemed like it might earn her another Pop Top 10, but then it stalled just as it hit #20. It did the exact same at AC. It was the first time since 1977 that she did not score a Top 10 hit with the lead-off single from an album. It was a disappointment and it was a real shot to her charting career as this song would be her last to reach the Pop Top 40. Somehow, the album still managed to reach gold-level sales. It would be her final studio album to get that certification.

ReduxReview:  Ever since Newton-John turned from a country/pop bumpkin into a sexy kitten via Grease, her music became more pop-oriented with shades of adult innuendo. It paid off big time with her mega #1 hit "Physical" and several more Top 10's. When it came time for the new album, for whatever reason she decided to amp up the sex and she went from slightly wink-wink naught to nearly slutty (a la Sheena Easton). The Playboy-ish Herb Ritts cover shot only teased at the songs inside that focused on sex including a three-way ("Culture Shock"), being seduced by a doctor ("Overnight Observation"), and this single that talks about her hunger for a "soul kiss," which was typically a term for open-mouth kissing. I think she jumped the shark with this album and the results pretty much attest to that. However, even though the album is a mess, I've always kind of liked it. There is some good synthpop tracks that are fun listens and then there is this sleek and sultry title track that I've always felt was underrated. The repetitive bass line groove is slinky, Newton-John's breathy performance is on the money, and it's a perfect sexy-night-by-the-fire track. It actually may have been just a little too mature for a pop audience and they didn't connect with lovely Olivia gettin' down on this tune. The Soul Kiss album is by no means a good one. It was a failed experiment. However, it's a curiosity that I like to dig out and listen to once in a great while.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The album's opening track, "Toughen Up," was issued out as the follow-up single, but it failed to reach any chart. It was written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, the team who had been handing Tina Turner some hits. Originally the team pitched this to Turner for the follow-up album to her big comeback hit Private Dancer. Despite the empowerment lyrics, apparently Turner didn't think the song was very strong and chose not to record it. Newton-John then picked it up but found out later that perhaps Turner was correct in her assessment.


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