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If You Love Me, Let Me Know
Olivia Newton-John

MCA 411
Released: May 1974
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 61
Certified Gold: 9/9/74

Olivia Newton-JohnOlivia Newton-John is the Seventies' equivalent of the "debutante" singer of the Forties. She seems to be in the business as an amusing lark, and as she tripped her way through this collection of such things as "Mary Skeffington" (Mary is surely a distant cousin of dear old Eleanor Rigby) and "Country Girl," I didn't mind in the slightest. She's a pretty girl singing pretty songs. But when "Free the People" turned up, and the title explains the "importance" of the message, I balked. It unkindly reminded me of the part in Cobina Wright Sr.'s memoirs (you see, someone does actually read that sort of thing) in which she describes how, with her back to the financial wall, struggling to pay the rent on her Waldorf Towers apartment and the tuition for little Cobina Jr. at Foxcroft, she submitted to the ultimate indignity: singing for money in a New York café! She, who had been trained for Grand Opera!! (To emphasize the tragic irony of it all, Cobina decided to open her act with "Why Was I Born?") But Miss Newton-John is so much better in such things of her own compositions as "Changes" or "Home Ain't Home Anymore" (they probably filled in the moat) that one eventually tends to forgive her lapse at the barricades.

The cover photo is by Patrick Litchfield. That's Patrick, the Earl of Litchfield, to you, Bub.

- Peter Reilly, Stereo Review, 10/74.

Bonus Reviews!

Though she has scored heavily in recent months as a singer of country flavored tunes, Olivia Newton-John began her career as a pop and folk singer and this LP is her best showcase yet of her all around abilities. The country material is here, but so are folky tunes, soft rock cuts and straight ballads. While the artist does not have the most powerful voice in the world, she makes superb use of the range she does have and the production of John Farrar and Bruce Welch help. A good selection of tunes which should receive airplay on Top 40, country and MOR stations. Best cuts: "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)," "I Love You, I Honestly Love You," "Free the People," "The River's Too Wide."

- Billboard, 1974.

Olivia Newton-John's solo career did not get off to a promising start. If Not For You, her 1971 debut album, peaked at number 159 and only stayed on the chart for four weeks. By 1974, however, the British-born, Australian-bred singer's luck began to change. The title track from her second album, Let Me Be There, climbed all the way to number six, but the album didn't fare as well, stalling at number 54. Still, the single represented an artistic breakthrough for Newton-John.

"I was kind of establishing a style for myself up to that point," she says. "In England there wasn't a country chart and a pop chart, there was just one chart. My producers and my manager were trying to establish a style for what we they thought suited my voice best. It seemed to be country and folk." On Newton-John's third album, If You Love Me, Let Me Know, the singer continued to explore those genres.

The breakthrough track was a song written by Peter Allen and Jeff Barry called "I Honestly Love You." Says Newton-John, "That came to me with a pile of demos that were sent to my producer John Farrar. We used to sit and wade through them and one day John said, 'I found this song and I think it's great.' I remember the first time I heard it. I thought, 'This is a knockout song, I've got to do it.'"

If You Love Me, Let Me Know was recorded at EMI Studios and CSS London. "I Honestly Love You" was recorded at the latter studio. "It was such a small studio," Newton-John says. "John and the engineer were sitting above my head and they couldn't move while were recording, because you could hear the squeaking of the floorboards, through the microphones." Although Newton-John sang the song three times, it was the first take that made the album.

For other material, Newton-John turned to some of her favorite writers, including the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, represented by "God Only Knows," and Gerry Rafferty, whose "Mary Skeffington" is featured.

The album also includes "Changes," a Newton-John original. "That was the first song I ever wrote that I recorded," she says. "John [Farrar] taught me a few open-tuning things and I was playing around with the guitar and the song came to me. I had a girlfriend next door who was going through a divorce. I played it to Bruce Welch and he liked it a lot."

The public was also taken by Newton-John. On June 29, 1974, the album's first single, "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)," reached number five, becoming the biggest hit of her fast-rising career. That was only the beginning. The second single, "I Honestly Love You," reached Number One on October 5, 1974. A week later, If You Love Me, Let Me Know went to Number One as well.

- Craig Rosen, The Billboard Book of Number One Albums, 1996.

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