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Monday, August 15, 2016

Cher: Foxy Lady


1) Living In A House Divided; 2) It Might As Well Stay Monday; 3) Song For You; 4) Down, Down, Down; 5) Don't Try To Close A Rose; 6) The First Time; 7) Let Me Down Easy; 8) If I Knew Then; 9) Don't Hide Your Love; 10) Never Been To Spain.

With a title like that, you might be expecting a bunch of tight, hot, sweaty Hendrix covers, but no dice. Once again, the album was produced by Snuff Garrett, with only marginal involvement from Sonny, yet the results were much less satisfactory than on the previous record. Two reasons come to mind immediately. First, the arrangements have become much more schmaltzy, with excessive use of Vegasy orchestration overshadowing the basic melodies — and second, Cher herself has become much more schmaltzy. The entire record, for crying out loud, sounds like one big rehearsal for an upcoming Vegas gig.

The best song of the lot is probably the first one, ʽLiving In A House Dividedʼ; although written by corporate songwriter Tom Bahler, it was a totally appropriate choice for Cher to sing, consi­dering her strained relationship with Sonny at the time. However, the arrangement is dreadfully generic, and the vocal performance is completely unconvincing — again, Cher finds it hard to express broken-hearted suffering, trying to compensate for this with a powerhouse screamfest, but ultimately she just ends up stuck somewhere between pain and anger, and the emotional potential of the tune ends up wasted. (Compare ʽGypsys, Tramps & Thievesʼ, where the anger mode worked to near-perfection).

And yet, the tune is still better than almost anything on this collection of mostly boring, hyper-orchestrated musical slush where everything goes wrong — mediocre songs, by-the-book arran­gements, uninvolved singing. Leon Russell's ʽA Song For Youʼ is another possible exception, but the song has been covered by just about everybody on Earth, so why would you want to add a Cher ver­sion? At least somebody like Karen Carpenter could capture all of its nuances and make it sound like a dialog between her two inner selves — Cher knows nothing about nuances, and be­sides it's almost impossible to picture her being "alone now and singing this song for you", con­sidering how natural it is for her to "act out my life on stages with 10,000 people watching".

There is no need whatsoever to comment on all the other schlock here; the main problem is not the songs, the main problem is the performer — she cannot even show a decent sense of humor on Hoyt Axton's ʽNever Been To Spainʼ, a cool demonstration of friendly ignorance and endea­ring nonchalance on which she ends up badly overacting and ruining the joke. (Granted, it's not as bad as the far more popular Three Dog Night cover, but only because Cher as a concept by which we measure our pain is vastly preferable to Three Dog Night in the same function in general). The only thing left to do, really, is just wonder at how they could miss the point so badly second time around — but then, the Sixties already showed us that the Cher story would always be a ran­dom lottery of many losses and few wins, and Foxy Lady, alas, initiates yet another losing streak, not to mention firmly cementing the dame's Seventies' image as that of a glam Vegas queen. Which worked all right for her at the time, to be sure, but now it's thumbs down all the way.

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