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Monday, October 31, 2016

Cher: Cher (1987)

CHER: CHER (1987)

1) I Found Someone; 2) We All Sleep Alone; 3) Bang-Bang; 4) Main Man; 5) Give Our Love A Fightin' Chance; 6) Perfection; 7) Dangerous Times; 8) Skin Deep; 9) Working Girl; 10) Hard Enough Getting Over You.

I always thought The Witches Of Eastwick was a fun movie (thanks largely to Nicholson, of course, but the ladies were okay too), and even though I do not remember much about Moon­struck, I don't remember being particularly put off by that one, either. Both of them came out in 1987, and both plainly suggested that Cher could have a bigger future in Hollywood than in her sunken musical career: for five years straight, she had not bothered making a new record, and we could almost be so happy as to hope that she would sit out the rest of pop music's corniest decade just as well. Alas, this was not meant to be: 1987 had to be the year of Cher's final triumph as actor and musical performer, and we had to sit back and accept it.

As is often the case, a new self-titled album signifies a creative rebirth, and in this case, Cher is rebooted as a leather-clad, big-haired, power-puffed arena icon, stuck in between synth-pop and glam metal — whatever it takes for people to buy the record. Her corporate allies, in addition to Desmond Child (now solidified in his realm by having recently scored with Bon Jovi), now in­clude Diane Warren (who else!), Michael Bolton (the long-haired Zeus of Eighties glam-rock to Diane's Hera), and a bunch of lesser figures who spend most of their time sucking up to the big ones. Her musician supporters include a list of approximately 100 different names — amazing, considering how almost every song here feels like it consists of about four different synthesizer notes and a robot drummer. And her attitude here can be described as "I don't really care how good it is, as long as it can kick ass across a football field".

I don't think it makes sense to even begin discussing any of these songs — everything here just sounds like completely generic radio fodder from the era (which it was): minimalistic, but annoy­ingly loud synth patterns, big drums, hystrionic guitar solos, and mildly catchy choruses that sometimes stick in your mind because of how many times they are repeated. The «hits» (ʽI Found Someoneʼ and ʽWe All Sleep Aloneʼ) sound no better or worse than the non-hits; also, ironically, even though it was ʽWe All Sleep Aloneʼ that was co-written by Child with Jon Bon Jovi, the one song that sounds the most like Bon Jovi is ʽGive Our Love A Fightin' Chanceʼ, co-written by Child with Diane Warren. But why should we care?

The worst offender is probably a re-recording of ʽBang Bangʼ, done pop-metal style, just because it is such a transparent statement of "that was way back then, and this is how it's going to be done now", because times change blah blah blah. Poor Sonny must have had a fit when he heard this; those of us who weren't tremendous fans of the early version in the first place have it better, but still, it is fairly hard to tolerate this mess of metallic basslines and piled-up synth overdubs. At least the original was a sentimental cornball with a sense of dark humor; the new version is a plastic, lifeless melodrama going straight to the garbage bin.

The only «stand out» on the record is ʽSkin Deepʼ, just because it ditches the arena-rock clichés for a second... only to engage just as heavily in dance-pop clichés à la Debbie Gibson or Tiffany or any of those other post-Madonna icons of the era. It's... danceable. Good enough for an aero­bics stint, but it didn't even chart all that high upon release. For that matter, even ʽI Found Some­one (To Write My Crappy Songs For Me)ʼ and ʽWe All Sleep Alone (No Matter What You Think About Me Having A Threesome With Michael Bolton And Desmond Child)ʼ never hit the top of the charts — although they did rise high enough, largely because of the captivating effect that the names of Bolton and Bon Jovi had on the public at the time, and made it perfectly legit to speak of Cher's musical «comeback» after almost a decade of floundering. But all this album really does is integrate the lady in the already established musical fashion of the late Eighties — and now, in the 2010s, it is high time we put the ugly baby back to sleep with a thunderous thumbs down, while at the same time, perhaps, resuscitating some interest in the early 1980s «flops» like Black Rose and I Paralyze that actually had at least a few sparks of genuine creativity.

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