Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical’ gets 40th anniversary reissue

Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 album Physical will get a special ‘Deluxe Edition’ re-release this October.

Celebrating the album’s 40th birthday, the new version will feature remastered recordings, heaps of bonus tracks, rare recordings and extended versions, plus it’ll contain both the Physical video album on DVD and a full live concert.


When it was first released in 1981 the record was a landmark album. It saw Newton-John display a new maturity and was noted for its sultry look and rock sound, plus the singer had a fresh new look cropping her trademark blonde hair.

Olivia Newton-John also forged new ground creating a video for every single song on the album and putting out a VHS tape with all the clips. While video albums are common nowadays, the idea was a bold move in a time when MTV hadn’t even launched yet.

For a singer who had first made her mark in the country charts, found widespread success via the film Grease and then moved over to the pop charts with Xanadu, this album saw Newton-John mark her spot in the rock and pop world.

The title single single written by Terry Shaddick and Steve Kipner had originally been envisaged for a male rock singer like Rod Stewart, but when Olivia’s manager heard the tune he sent it to her for her consideration. Teamed with a comic video, the song spent 10 weeks in the number one spot on the US charts.

Speaking of new version of the album Olivia Newton-John said it was hard to believe it was 40 years since it was first released.

“It’s hard to believe that it has been 40 years since Physical was first released and I am thrilled that it’s getting this beautiful 40th anniversary Deluxe Edition,” Newton-John said .

“I am so proud of this record as it not only allowed me to try new things musically, but it became such a part of pop-culture history.  It also gave me the chance to work (again) with fellow Aussies – my amazing friend, songwriter and producer John Farrar and Steve Kipner, who co-wrote Physical.

“I remember being so nervous that I had ‘gone too far’ with the title song’s ‘cheekiness’ that I told my manager at the time, Roger Davies, to pull it off the album.  He laughed and said ‘luv, it’s too late it’s gone to radio and is climbing the charts!”

Olivia reflects on the song being banned

While the video for the song Physical was set in a gym, the lyrics were clearly referring to other physical activities. The hit song was so suggestive that it was banned by many radio stations across the globe, as well as the entire country of South Africa – something Newton-John is proud of today.

“I was banned for ‘Physical’ – can you imagine? – I can actually say I was banned!” laughed Newton-John. “That song is a lullaby compared to what’s on the radio today!”

The tracks included on the new version of Physical include the album’s original ten songs including hits Physical and Make a Move on Me, plus songs recorded for her second Greatest Hits collections, Heart Attack and Tied Up. 

The new CD will also include songs from the 1983 film Two of a Kind, adding Twist of Fate, Take a Chance and (Livin’ In) Desperate Times to it’s track list, and Face to Face, Newton-John’s duet with Barry Gibb that appeared on his 1984 solo album.

The CD/DVD collection will be released by Green Hill Productions, a subsidiary of Primary Wave, on October 22 and will be available for pre-order today, September 24. In addition, a limited-edition vinyl release of the original album set for release in Spring 2022 will also be available for pre-order today, September 24.

The vinyl version will allow fans to appreciate the album as it was first experienced, with it’s massive fold out inside cover image.

The iconic picture that adorns the album was shot by photographer Herb Ritts. He would later create a very similar image for Madonna’s 1986 album True Blue. 

Forty years after it stormed up the charts around the globe Olivia Newton-John’s Physical remains a great album that continues to inspire young artists.

Olivia Newton-John chatted with OUTinPerth back in 2012.

OIP Staff

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