The Evolution of Making A Good Thing Better
Maybe it's a good motto to start the new year or leave the old one behind, who knows?
I came to know the LP in 1983 when my Dad presented me the Album as a Birthday gift. I wasn't so much into Country Music at that time and preferred Olivia's up-tempo songs in the 80s. But I was impressed with "Don't cry for me Argentina" and "Ring of fire". These Songs I've known before having had a listen to Johnny Cash and Julie Covington's versions.
"Making a good thing better" wasn't an as big hit for Olivia as her former releases "Don't stop believin'" and "Come on over". The Album charted at position 60 in the UK and made a 34th place on the US charts back in 1977. The title track was written by Peter Wingfield, who even did record the song in 1976. It is included on his CD "Eighteen With a Bullet: The Island Recordings" from 2008, released on the Cherry Red label in the UK.
More interesting how the single of Olivia was marketed back in 1977. It was the year before Olivia's world-wide big break with GREASE. "Making a good thing better" made a slow impression on the US charts (the only charts it entered!) and stayed for 4 weeks at position 87.
In the early and mid-seventies it was still not a common thing to include picture sleeves to 7" records. Some countries did, but many left them out due to production finances.
MAGTB was released with "I think I'll say goodbye" as a b-side in the US, Japan and the UK. Only the japanese edition did feature a picture sleeve.
In Spain the Novola label put the 7" out as a limited promo with "Sad Songs" as flip-side and illustrated the record with the classic LP Cover sleeve. ("Sad Songs" tho made it to an A-side Single in Japan as well!)
Australia and the Philippines also released the song without a cover sleeve, but with much different b-sides. While in OZ we find "Compassionate Man" (from "Don't stop believin'") in the Philippines we got "Coolin' down" as a flip-side. Funny enough that the Aussies put the later song on the b-side of "Twist of fate" in 1983. "Compassionate Man" was even released as an A-side 7" in Japan, where Olivia's popularity was as solidified as it was in the US in 1976/1977.
But "Making a good thing better" also made it on 7" records as a b-side! (btw: in Germany the song wasn't released at all as a single). EMI Brazil decided to put "Slow Dancing" on the A-side and banned the title song to the flip-side. And in Chile it seemed "Don't cry for me Argentina" was the worth song to appear on the A-side. Both Countries again, released it without a picture sleeve.
The most rare and collectible 7" is the one from the Netherlands. It's graced with a lovely shot from Olivia's 1974 appearance on the "Eddie go round Show" and "Don't ask a friend" (Olivia's self-penned Song on MAGTB) was chosen for the b-side. (Again the later song was the b-side for "Don't cry for me Argentina" on the Philippines and as the flip-side for "Sad Songs" in Japan).
Although knowing my 7" collection will never be complete, because there are so many 7" Singles circling around the globe I still keep hunting for that dutch 7" of "Making a good thing better". The copy I saw was sold for "only" 910 $. well, even for a hard-core collector that's a tough price to cope with and I'd say "thanks, not no thanks!".
So we all can try making a good thing better, can we ?