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Picks and Pans Review: Physical

updated 12/07/1981 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/07/1981 01:00AM

Olivia Newton-John

No more of that "Please, Mister, please" business for Livvy. This LP impressively completes the transformation that began with her 1979 album Totally Hot and has turned Newton-John into a much more aggressive, spirited and entertaining singer. She still maintains enough of that breathy, little-girl sound to serve as a contrast. But it's her bravado, which at times slips into an effective Benatar-like stridency, that puts over such tunes as the invigorating, good-naturedly sexy Physical ("I'm sure you'll understand my point of view/We know each other mentally/You gotta know that you're bringin' out/The animal in me"). Newton-John benefits from some deft, synthesizer-heavy arrangements by her longtime producer, John Farrar, who also helped write many of the tunes. The material includes such unimposing but felicitous lines as, in Strangers Touch: "You're a part of me that I can't replace/But he touched my heart in a new place." There are a couple of cuts with a message: Hank Marvin's 1970 anti-insecticide song Silvery Rain and Olivia's own The Promise, a sweet if naive save-the-dolphins plea reminiscent of Judy Collins' whale crusades. This is mainly a pop-rock album, though, and it is a first-class production: danceable, listenable and beguiling.

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