Before I go, I’d like to knock off a new Cher CD review, the latest in an endless pile of Cher greatest hits assemblages to tumble out of the great black hole that is Cher Compilation Production. Or maybe instead there’s a factory somewhere at the south pole where elves contemplate various ways to re-combine Cher hits with Cher not-so-much-hits, those same overworked and malnourished elves packaging it all ambivalently into lackluster booklets with ill-researched biographies and ever-mounting accolades stuffed into first or closing sentences of liner note essays written by people we’ve never heard of.
It’s my dream job really.
Universal has a new line called Universal Green Series (Recycle reuse replay), one of those rubber-stamp series sets. I guess you’re meant to collect them all so your CD shelves look swell, like having a shelf lined with Library of America books, only you’re not fooling anybody because everybody knows people with choreographed bookshelves really don’t read.
The Best of Cher (if I had a dime for every Best of Cher CD I own...I’d have something like 7 or 8 dimes) contains the following:
- I Got You Babe
- The Beat Goes On
- Half Breed
- Dark Lady
- Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
- Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
- Living in a House Divided
- The Shoop Shoop Song
- We All Sleep Alone
- I Found Someone
- Just Like Jesse James
- Heart of Stone
- After All
- Love and Understanding
- If I Could Turn Back Time
I listened to this new CD driving down Artesia Boulevard in LA with my boyfriend one Saturday morning on our way out for a breakfast of huevos rancheros. Of all the songs, he seems to like...ahem... “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” best for its soap-operatic storyline.
Let me take a moment to express my extreme irritation with the constant misspelling of this song title. Or rather, the constant corrected spelling of this song title. According to Merriam Webster “gypsies” is in fact the correct spelling (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gypsies); however, the album title is spelled “Gypsys Tramps & Thieves” with a "y" in the plural form of gypsies and an ampersand. I’m just saying titles are sacrosanct and shouldn’t be meddled with even if they’re incorrect. It’s part of their charm.
My boyfriend snickered at "Just Like Jesse James" but that may be my relentless anti-Diane Warren influence talking. As bad Diane Warren songs go, "Jesse James" is so much better than "Love and Understanding." The lyrics drive me nuts; they’re so vapid. If I may encapsulate the great theme of this piece: basically there’s just not enough love and understanding. Love can’t be found when we need it (it seems). “When love's supply don't meet love's demand.” Love, love, love. We seem to have enough stars, sun, cars, planes, buildings, and ambition – yup we got more than enough of those things. “But there’s one thing there's just not enough of...” Well, two things technically: love and understanding. We could use some more. Troubled times. Oh why oh why isn’t there enough? What should we do? Where do we stand? We’ve got to find it.
I guess I just don’t have enough love and understanding myself when it comes to explicating this piece of work. But then I would counter that not enough love and understanding was taken with detail and creativity in that pop song.
So back to the CD array of hits at hand (I love to ponder this stuff, I really do). There are two 60s S&C songs (IGUB and Beat Goes On) and three big 70s solo songs (Half Breed, Dark Lady, Gypsys). So far we have no consistent chronological order here. Then rewind to a solo 60s hit (Bang Bang) and back forward to a minor 70s hit (House Divided), then we get whiplash racing ahead to The Shoop Shoop Song which looks like it works as sort of a bridge (skipping over Take Me Home) to her 80s hits. After those, the collection abruptly stops.
Packaging is all 80s pics on cardboard. The bio is brief and full of holes (they have Cher working with Phil Spector when she meets Sonny, as if Phil discovered her not Sonny), and again the story stops short of her 90s comeback, as if it were produced pre-Believe.
In summary, this CD is no great shakes as good Cher compilations go (she’s overdue a juicy boxed-set). But I guess I support this label’s cause of recycling. So if someone stole this CD out of my car I wouldn’t cry about it.
Like I still cry over that Elvis Costello CD that was stolen out of my rental car during a trip to Flagstaff two years ago. If you’re out there, you know who you are!