Video of the Week: Olivia! ABC-TV Special with Andy Gibb & ABBA (1978)

It’s hard to imagine a better 20-minute compilation of 1978 pop than the Olivia! ABC-TV special. No stupid skits. No useless banter. Just one uninterrupted medley of the hits that made Olivia Newton-John, Andy Gibb and ABBA three of the era’s juggernaut pop acts.

The sound guy’s notes, reproduced below, are instructive, explaining as they do how rare it is to have a surviving stereo document sourced from a TV special of that era, given that most TV was mono until the mid-1980’s

Also, the version that aired began at exactly 3:01 of this feed, which explains the slight slowing of the audio at that point. And the final song, “Thank You For the Music”, played as the end credits ran, so the video also extends a little beyond what was aired.

Needless to say, nothing is dubbed here. The singing, the orchestra, even Andy Gibb missing a cue at the beginning of a song–it’s all as real as it gets.

And if I may say so as a fan of all these artists, it’s enthralling to see them all accompany and seemingly enjoy one another.

~ ~ ~

ONE OF A KIND – FIRST GENERATION AUDIO. This is the concert segment IN TRUE STEREO from the 1978 special “Olivia!” Just prior to shooting this segment with a live orchestra, the audio guy asked if I would like a stereo feed of the sound. Of course I said yes and fed two three-quarter inch VCRs with the special feed. Stereo TV was not available widely until the mid-1980s. After completion of the special, I manually synced the 2″ master of the show to my ¾” master and, viola, a stereo version of the concert with Andy Gibb, ABBA, and Olivia! Shot just days before it aired, the ABC-TV special “Olivia!” was the marathon of all television specials I edited while in Hollywood. For 36 nonstop hours, director Steve Binder (my all time favorite) and the post-production crew dashed toward an unbelievable deadline and beat it. This is the entire concert segment. The air version begins at 3:01 and ends prior to “Thank you for the Music” (which was used for closing credits). Please select 480p and full screen (and don’t forget headphones!); the quality is matchless!

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