mardi 25 juillet 2017


Tied Up (In Promises) / (Livin’ In) Desperate Times

Today I’ll focus on two 7“ releases from 1983 and 1984 that did impress me by far deeper than their predecessors „Heart Attack“ (1982) and „Twist of Fate“ (1983).
While „Heart Attack“ did much better on the charts accompanying Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol.2 release and her 1982 „Physical Tour of North America“, the second single „Tied Up“charted much lower in the US, Canada and Australia. 

Being a strong performance song I liked „Heart Attack“, but never felt totally comfortable with that „Pogo“ feel to it.

Tied Up“ appeared much more sultry with an unusual flute solo, which was new to an ONJ 80’s tune. 
Before I got the 7“ in my hands by mid-1983 I could only listen to the version on the german Greatest Hits 1982 LP. 
That LP contains one of the worst sound qualities of an ONJ album ever! 
Due to the overloading of songs. This compilation was released to the asian and australian markets containing 14 songs while the US edition just featured 10. 

The european LP was packed with all of ONJ’s early 70’s material (e.g. „If not for you“, „Country Roads“, „Sam“ and many more) making a full of 16 to 20 tunes. 
The sound of „Tied Up“ is so quiet on that vinyl that you really had to turn up your volume to get any kind of joy listening to it.

Composer and guitarist Lee Ritenour was responsible for writing „Tied Up“ together with Olivia’s long-time producer John Farrar. 

The single saw a release in the US in January 1983 and was released overseas in March that same year. Making an average impression on the charts in the United States, outside Europe it was completely over-heard. But in comparison to the US and australian releases, which featured a slightly edited version of the song and „Silvery Rain“ (from the „Physical“ album) as b-side, we were very happy in Europe (as were South Americans) seeing Olivia’s „Physical“ live recording from her 1982 US tour as b-side ! 
This superb cut (originally a length of 10:33 minutes on the video release) was edited down to 7:33 minutes for the single flip-side leaving out most of the audience sing-a-long.

I remember being puzzled with that live version, because it was so different from the studio version. But definitely a great treat since ONJ live recordings were so rare in those days !

Ritenour even recorded his own version of „Tied Up“ for his 1982 „RIT/2“ Album. A great version which has a lot of musicians on it, who are well-known from many ONJ records of the 70’s and 80’s (e.g. Michael Boddicker or Nathan East). John Farrar provides backing vocals for Lee’s version as well and he is joined by Mr. Mister’s front singer Richard Page.

In 1985 Stevie Nicks did a demo of „Tied Up“ for her extremely successful album „Rock a little“. Somehow it didn’t make it on the LP. She made it her very own version and it’s far apart from Olivia’s appeal.

Trivia: To this day it’s hard to find any credits of Olivia’s „Tied Up“ recording, since the liner notes on the 7“ and Greatest Hits LP remain very economical. 

Another weak follow-up to a smash hit was „Livin’ In Desperate times“, which charted also only in the US, Canada and Australia. „Twist of fate“ was fantastically fresh when it was released in Europe in November 1983. But again it wasn’t making a big chart impression over here. 
Because the movie „Two of a kind“ was released much later in some countries (autumn 1984) EMI decided to release „Take a chance“ as a follow up to „Twist of fate“ in Europe.

The then new ONJ/Travolta duet totally failed the charts. (In the US „Take a chance“ was a double A-side with „Twist of fate“ and did very well on the AC charts !) „Twist of Fate“ had good airplay around Europe, but „Take a chance“ faded much too fast being compared as a cheap copy of ABBA’s 1977 hit of the same title.

LIDT“ is one of the most-oustanding recordings of Olivia up to date. Because of it’s aggressiveness and massive drum-pad rhythms it appears very much like the new-wave era in terms of Depeche Mode, Yazoo and others. I couldn’t take it off my turntable around christmas 1983. 
The soundtrack of „Two of a kind“ had been released simultaneously on both sides of the ocean, although the movie arrived with much delay over here.
And it took at least two more years for me to learn that „LIDT“ had been released as a remix in the US and Australia. 
I had the japanese and swedish 7“ vinyls, but those feature the ususal LP versions. That always confused me, because the Polar cover sleeve was the same as the US sleeve. 
So when „LIDT“ hit the stores in Febuary 1984 I didn’t care for the US release.

In 1985 I got my hands on the US 7“ and even found out that „Twist of fate“ and „LIDT“ were released as a double A-side 12“ with superb remixes.

I remember writing a letter to the late Bo Larsson in Sweden (founder of the swedish ONJ fanclub), who took care of me a lot in the beginning of my collectiong years : He sold me rare and hard to find records including the US and swedish 12“ of „LIDT“ which was overwhelming in those days.

I believe „LIDT“ would not have been a hit here if it was released back then. But it wasn’t the song. It was Olivia’s absence doing promotional trips to Europe which caused chart failures.
Again EMI and Polar decided to chose „Silvery Rain“ for a b-side. The song had been used as a flip already for „Tied Up“ and also for „Take a chance“. 
Any choice from Olivia’s Physical tour could’ve been better, but you’ll never know why record companies decide for a song as an A or B side. 

Looking at Olivia’s catalogue there had been made some really strange choices! Why „Landslide“, which had been a single release in 1982, was chosen as a b-side for „LIDT“ is even more confusing !!

Trivia: Arlene Phillips, who was resonpsible for choreographing the stage production of „Starlight Express“ (amongst many others!) did work with Olivia on the „LIDT“ video. 
The cover shot from the japanese 7“ was taken from the Merv Griffin Show (December 3, 1983). As with „Tied Up“ and „Heart Attack“ it’s hard to find any recording details on all of the songs from the „Two of a kind“ Soundtrack.

It makes no sense to argue about which song or video are the best, because tastes of the fans are very different. And knowing myself a favorite song can change within a minute. But indeed „Tied Up“ and „Livin’ In Desperate Times“ stay amongst my 80’s faves on my ONJ-list.

Bonus : the 12 inches version !

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