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“Grease” Is Still the Positively Energized Way We Are Feeling! By Scott Aber

As I started to research material to include for this article, I certainly had a plethora to pick from. Grease is an institution that's been celebrated for the past 40 years. And the aforementioned plethora of sources certainly includes my own experiences with, and feelings about, this originallydismissed-by-everyone-including-its-creators masterpiece. For me, my love of Grease started at 6 years old, when I received the original 2-disc vinyl release as a birthday present. Of course, I had heard of Grease from both radio airplay of the charttopping songs, and my aunt Kelly, who was our family's resident John Travolta disciple. But I had never actually seen the movie itself, until it came to HBO (one of only two then-competing premium cable channels) sometime later. Since album cover art didn't contain Parental Advisories back then, my mom – who also had not ever seen the movie yet – wasn't too happy when she heard the lyrics to Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee or Greased Lightning. The one thing that I remember most about seeing Grease for the very first time, is Sandy being presented during the film's finale. The reason this particular moment sticks out in my mind more vividly than any other, is because although I had seen Olivia Newton-John made up this way on the cover of the soundtrack album, I had absolutely no idea who she was when she came on screen. It just didn't register. Grease has been re-released to home video and TV outlets various times, each time containing subtle changes in the audio track. The first time Grease was shown on ABC TV in 1981, the sound had a more ceramic quality, with Olivia Newton-John's second moan as John Travolta kisses her at the beach, being turned up. Bowser also does more MC'ing as Danny & Sandy take over the floor during the Hand Jive. The opening credits in this version were missing Vince Vontaine's patter over the instrumental intro of Frankie Valli's title track, during which he “hits the post.” And Stockard Channing's delivery of the line, “You pig!” in response to Jeff Conaway's remarks about hickies, was also slightly different. That different delivery of Rizzo's line is actually heard in the film's original theatrical trailer. This is the version that TV channels used for decades, until networks that were then-owned by mogul Ted Turner started showing more current TV versions, that weren't as censored. These later TV versions contained a still-edited, but longer version of Greased Lightning, allowing Danny to still utter the line, “The chicks'll cream.” But the biggest changes to Grease's spectacular sound came in 1997, when a very well-meaning George Lucas contacted his former college roommate and director of Grease, Randal Kleiser. George had just given all three Star Wars movies a THX digital makeover, and re-released them to theaters in celebration of the original film's 20th anniversary. The project was so well-received, that George suggested to Randal that he do the same thing with Grease, for its own 20th anniversary. In effort to do it “right”, Randal went into the Paramount vault to get all of the original celluloid sound reel elements, to be remixed and mastered from scratch. Unfortunately, some of those sound reels had become gooey from decades of storage. A slow low-temperature baking process to dry them out worked to a great degree, but some elements were ultimately unsalvageable.

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Steel Notes Magazine-Winter 2018  

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Steel Notes Magazine-Winter 2018  

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