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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cher: Cher

CHER: CHER (1966)

1) Sunny; 2) The Twelfth Of Never; 3) You Don't Have To Say You Love Me; 4) I Feel Something In The Air; 5) Will You Love Me Tomorrow; 6) Until It's Time For You To Go; 7) The Cruel War; 8) Catch The Wind; 9) Pied Piper; 10) Homeward Bound; 11) I Want You; 12) Alfie.

Same mistake again: Cher seems just about as interested in delivering most of this material as her passionate, emotion-torn, devastating facial expression on the front cover might suggest (I decode it if not as a "who am I?" sort of expression, then at least as a "what am I doing here?" variety). Instead of making her cover ʽSatisfactionʼ or ʽPositively 4th Streetʼ or at least the Stones' ʽStupid Girlʼ re-written as ʽStupid Boyʼ — songs that would have put her deep, aggressive vocals at an advantage — Sonny keeps saddling her with sentimental ballads that were never that good in the first place (although I must say that ʽYou Don't Have To Say You Love Meʼ makes me fondly re-appreciate the Dusty Springfield version), or with cleverly written, subtle folk-rock tunes whose magic is turned to mindless brawn (ʽHomeward Boundʼ).

I can only hope that the cover of ʽSunnyʼ here was not meant to read ʽSonnyʼ — considering the circumstances under which Bobby Hebb wrote the song, and its general atmosphere, you'd think it mighty strange for Cher to sing of Sonny Bono as a dead man 32 years before she put him on a radio-controlled pair of skis and drove him into a tree to mercifully spare him the agony of enduring the success of ʽBe­lieveʼ for the rest of his life. Actually, she gives a fairly convincing reading — ʽSunnyʼ works well as a strong statement of faith and power, rather than lyrical senti­mentality, and that's one thing that Cher can give; in this particular case, I'd certainly rather have her cover the song than Paul Simon, Donovan, or Dylan. (Not that anyone could ever beat the Boney M version, but oh well. Disco days weren't quite there yet back in 1966).

Weird choice of the day: ʽI Want Youʼ as the Dylan choice, with Cher forgetting the lyrics ("I wait for them to read your looks, while drinking from my broken cup" — geez, lady, that doesn't even rhyme!) and nobody giving a damn about it. Sonny reference of the day: "The cruel war is raging / Sonny has to fight" instead of "Johnny has to fight" in Peter, Paul & Mary's ʽCruel Warʼ. As far as I know, Sonny was never drafted, so we should be taking this as a metaphor, but I'm pretty sure quite a few of Sonny's friends must have given him some anxious calls about the mat­ter. The "Much Ado About Nothing" reference of the day: ʽAlfieʼ, the title track to the famous movie that made a star out of Michael Caine and whose hit status was disputed between Cilla Black, Cher, and Dionne Warwick — as far as I'm concerned, it's just another saccharine pill from Burt Bacharach, and the song sucks in any version.

The most «interesting» song of the lot is arguably ʽI Feel Something In The Airʼ, Sonny's only original composition here that is more intriguing because of its lyrics that deal with accidental pregnancy than the actual music (although it does feature a bold triple change of time signature, briefly becoming a waltz and a Motown girl group tune in the bridge section). Unfortunately, the tune did not manage to properly conquer the American charts — not because of the lyrics, but be­cause of the lack of an instantly gripping hook — and the album in general became a commercial disappointment, heralding the establishment of The Great Cher Sinusoid, wobbling between success and failure with almost befuddling regularity. Well, actually, the regularity becomes less befuddling when you realize it simply took time for her to catch up, and in late '66, she had problems with that. I mean, even Donovan was already way beyond pallid Dylan imitations like ʽCatch The Windʼ in late 1966, so come on already. Thumbs down.

1 comment:

  1. There's nowhere to "come on" to. Cher's career in the 60's leads to an ultra-cheesy variety show in the 70's, then a divorce from Sonny, then disco, then an uncomfortable career decline, then Las Vegas, then the inevitable comeback with "Believe." Tabloids love her, gays impersonate her, and she's retired five or six times. No one will remember her in 50 years.