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Not Too Sure About The "Extras" Though
on 28 January 2004
This new “25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” (sounds pretty impressive, huh?!) arrived on the scene last Autumn with very little publicity or advertising behind it, so fans of the original soundtrack might be surprised at it’s availability. Still, for those who love the songs from “Grease”, this really is one of those “must have” CDs. Purists may not like this double CD however because all the initial songs have been digitally re-mastered to sound as if John Travolta, Olivia Newton John and the rest of the cast only recorded these tracks yesterday. But when the songs sound as good as they do on this revamped CD, what’s not to like about them? There’s nothing much anyone can add to what’s already been said about the soundtrack to Grease. It truly is a wonderful feel good album that’s stood the test of time really well - a soundtrack to be enjoyed by many generations to come. My interest in this new edition was the second disc, and for those curious at what these new versions are all about, I’ve decided to review that CD in more detail.
The added bonus of this “25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” (how cool is that title?!) is the second disc, crammed full of mixes, megamixes and rarities. We begin with the “original” 1978 instrumental version of the title track (yes, it did appear on the b-side of the 7” single as I used to own it!). Nothing special about it, mind you as it sounds just like a karaoke track. The next three tracks on disc 2 (“Summer Nights”, “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and “You’re The One That I Want”) are “genuine” karaoke tracks, however - not songs you’ll be playing time and time again though (oh, and for those who don’t know the words to these timeless classics, you’ll find the lyrics inside the CD cover). Next up, another karaoke gem - this time, the “2003” version of “Sandy”. By this time you’re left wondering why all the fuss about this bonus disc (it’s free after all) when for 25 years, fans of the movie have been singing along to these songs without the aid of “karaoke/sing-a-long” versions. Methinks someone at Polydor caught wind of the upcoming “Greasemania” TV special and decided to give the movie’s real fans an opportunity to better those pop star wannabes who slaughtered those classic songs. I mean, could you do any worse?
John Travolta’s ‘single’ version of “Grease Lightnin’” is up next. Slightly shorter than the movie/album version - with a few naughty words omitted for good measure - but you’ll be hard pushed to notice the difference, making this a near-perfect copy of the version you’re most familiar with. This is followed by two “previously unreleased” instrumentals from the movie (“Rydell Fight Song” & “Greased Up & Ready To Go”). If you’ve seen the movie more than once, these instrumentals will be instantly recognisable to you as they featured throughout various parts of the movie. Still, the words “album” and “fillers” spring to mind after you listen to them - a perfect description of this bonus CD up to this point. Then comes the awful PWL produced “Grease Megamix”. Both John & Olivia have went on record by saying they hate this Megamix and it’s not hard to see why. If I were compiling this bonus CD for Polydor, I’d have included the 1998 “Ultimix” Megamix instead - a track far superior to this effort. That said, the next track - The Grease Dream Mix (again, produced by PWL) - more than makes up for it’s abysmal predecessor. Featuring the songs “Grease”, “Sandy” and “Hopelessly Devoted To You”, I’ll never understand why this Megamix never gained chart success - especially considering it’s shambolic forerunner was one of the best selling singles of 1990.
The final two offerings were originally released in Australia to commemorate the movie’s 20th anniversary back in 1998 and only available in the UK by import. So most won’t have heard the “new” versions of “Summer Nights” and “You’re The One That I Want”. Personally speaking, I didn’t like these remixes when I first heard them back when they were originally released and I still don’t like them today. “Summer Nights” -which is accompanied by a calypso-style backing track- is the better of the two, while “You’re The One That I Want” -to be brutally honest- is terrible. It’s a “trance” style remix that just doesn’t work for me (and I have since discovered it didn’t set the Australian music scene alight when originally released over there in 1998 either). I’ve been lucky enough to have heard several other remixes from the album over the past few years which knock the spots off anything featured on this bonus disc, so I’m surprised Polydor never considered featuring those ones. Quite frankly, this bonus CD makes the “Grease 2” soundtrack album appear one of the greatest pieces of musical work ever recorded! So to rate this awesomely titled “25th Anniversary DELUXE (no less!) Edition” , I give Disc One the maximum 5 stars, with Disc Two limping home with a measly 1.5. Then again, you’re not paying anything extra for this bonus disc, and considering the whole DELUXE edition is available for only £9.99, no-one’s forcing you to play it! But I do recommend you check out the beautiful “Grease Dream Mix”.