24 October 2019
Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture is the original motion picture soundtrack for the 1978 film Grease. It was originally released by RSO Records and subsequently re-issued by Polydor Records in 1984 and 1991. It has sold approximately 38 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time, also ranking amongst the biggest selling soundtrack albums of all time. The song "You're the One That I Want" was a US and UK No. 1 for stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
Besides performers John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the album also featured songs by rock and roll revival group Sha Na Na as well as the hit song "Grease", a tune written by Barry Gibb (of the Bee Gees) and sung by Frankie Valli (of The Four Seasons) that was an additional U.S. number one.
The soundtrack was released on April 14, 1978, two months ahead of the film's release. As with most musicals of the period, the vocal takes recorded for the album release–and in some cases the instrumental background as well–do not lock to picture but were recorded during entirely different soundtrack sessions often months prior or subsequent to the performances used for lip sync in the film.
The cover gives credit to, and prominently features, the two stars of the film — John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John—although they only appear on seven of the 24 tracks. Sha Na Na performed many of the 1950s numbers in the film, the recordings of which also appear on the soundtrack. Stockard Channing sings lead on two of the tracks; the two tracks remain her only significant contribution to recorded popular music to date. The title track was recorded by Frankie Valli, who had no other connection with the film.
The entirety of the score written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey for the Broadway musical was included on the soundtrack and/or in the film, with the exception of two songs: "Shakin' at the High School Hop" (originally composed to open Act II of the musical) and "All Choked Up" (the song originally written into the spot where the film used "You're the One that I Want") were both left out of both the film and the soundtrack. Not all of the songs were included in the film; songs cut from the film were performed on the soundtrack by Louis St. Louis and Cindy Bullens or converted to instrumentals. Songs in the musical that were not performed by Rizzo, Danny, Sandy, the Teen Angel, or Johnny Casino & the Gamblers were given to those characters or to St. Louis and Bullens; these included Sandy's original feature number "It's Raining on Prom Night" (given to Bullens and used as a jukebox background song), Marty's "Freddy, My Love" (given to Bullens), Doody's "Those Magic Changes" (given to Johnny Casino & the Gamblers), Kenickie's "Greased Lightnin'" (given to Danny), and both of the songs originally attributed to a character named Roger that was written out of the film, "Mooning" and "Rock n Roll Party Queen" (both given to St. Louis; "Mooning" was replaced in function in the film by the 1930s standard "Blue Moon," performed by the Gamblers).
The most successful songs from the soundtrack were written specifically for the film. They included the Billboard number-one hits "Grease", "You're the One That I Want" and the Academy Award-nominated "Hopelessly Devoted to You". In the UK, the album proved even more successful where "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" (a song carried over from the original musical) reached No.1 for nine and seven weeks respectively, while "Grease", "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "Sandy" all became top three hits. The soundtrack album hit the top of the charts in the U.S. during the summer of 1978, replacing The Rolling Stones' Some Girls. In the UK, it remained at the top of the charts for 13 consecutive weeks. As of 2011, "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" are still among the 20 best-selling singles of all time in the UK (at Nos.6 and 19 respectively). "Greased Lightnin'," another carryover from the stage version, was also released as a single, reaching the top 20 in the UK but narrowly missing the top 40 in the U.S. in part because of the lyrical content not being permitted on U.S. radio.
Two of the bass players who recorded on the Grease soundtrack were (at different times) members of Toto. One of these, David Hungate, also performed on Olivia Newton-John's album Totally Hot with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather. Other musicians here have previously worked with Elton John, Steely Dan, Bee Gees and others. The Grease album as well as the soundtrack for the film were recorded and mixed by David J. Holman.
The album has sold over 6 million copies in the US in the SoundScan era (beginning 1991) in addition to the 8 million shipped in the years 1978–1984.
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars
Christgau's Record Guide C+
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic retrospectively rated the soundtrack four-and-a-half stars. He stated that "the originals hold up better than the '50s tunes" due in large part to Sha Na Na's workmanlike performances of the latter. Erlewine added however that the original songs "are so giddily enjoyable that everything works". He also said that "the sleek pop production the movie's soundtrack boasts and the cast's enthusiastic performances go a long way in making this Grease the definitive Grease." The album was nominated for Album of the Year at the 21st Annual Grammy Awards.
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