Monday, December 16, 2013
Two of a Kind (soundtrack)
Today (December 16th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Two of a Kind, the 1983 romantic comedy that re-teamed John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The two played criminally-minded individuals (he an inventor, she a bank teller) bent on protecting the Earth from God’s destruction. Unlike the former film that starred these two (1978’s film-adaptation of the musical Grease), this one was a critical and commercial flop.
But, as I am wont to do, today I will be giving the soundtrack album, which ended up being a Platinum seller, a spin. It proved successful, reaching number 35 in Australia, number 32 in Canada, number 29 in Japan, and number 26 on the US Billboard Album chart.
Side one opens with Newton-John on “Twist of Fate”. As the debut single, it went to number 73 in Japan, number 57 in the UK, number 22 in New Zealand, number 15 in Germany, number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 4 in both Australia and Canada. With a driving drumbeat and a strong synth presence, this one was a nice high energy dance tune.
Travolta joins her for the duet “Take a Chance”; as the B-side of the debut single it flew to number 3 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. As a fan of their earlier collaborations, this one is a little to tepid for me; while their voices blend well enough it just seems too safe and a bit boring.
Patti Austin is next with “It’s Gonna Be Special”. As a single, it stalled at number 82 on the US Billboard Hot 100 but reached number 15 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 5 on the US Billboard Dance chart. I like the island rhythms to this one; it goes a long way to getting things back on track again.
Songwriter Steve Kipner, who worked with Newton-John quite a bit in the past, provides “Catch 22 (2 Steps Forward, 3 Steps Back)”. It is another danceable track with an intense tempo.
Newton-John closes the side with soft ballad “Shaking You”. She really sells the emotion in this one about struggling to move on from a former lover. That’s one thing I have always liked about her - she is a versatile performer that can do a variety of styles equally well.
Side two begins with “Livin’ in Desperate Times” by Newton-John. As a single, this up-tempo track went to number 81 in Australia, number 43 in Canada and number 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It is very similar to the opening track of side one, but this one got considerably less airplay. That makes it more of a “forgotten treasure” in my book.
Boz Scaggs serves up the piano-based ballad “The Perfect One“.
Journey is up next with “Ask the Lonely”. While not released as a single, this mid-tempo rocker still got considerable airplay on the US Mainstream Rock chart where it reached number 3. And that’s likely the place I heard it the most (there and at parties and bars) back in the day. For me, it starts out a bit slow but really kicks in on the memorable, sing-along-to chorus.
“Prima Donna” by Chicago keeps things going in that same mid-tempo rock vein.
The album closes with the instrumental “Night Music”, performed by Canadian composer David Foster. Starting with a simple piano melody, it swells with strings and synths in the second half.
I am pretty certain I have never seen Two of a Kind, even on cable. Parts of the soundtrack album, though, definitely have made its mark on my listening chart. There are some very strong dance tracks here as well as Newton-John’s final big hits of the 80’s. That makes it worth hunting down, if you can. I did it through a mix of artist compilations that were then supplemented by YouTube to locate the rest.