Cher History: Marriages, Music, Hair, Movies and TV

ChergreggGossip

Cher's marriage to Gregg Allman was revisited by Inquisitir: “inside their whirlwind marriage.”

 

 

Music

And on the site AV Club, death-fuled songs from the 70s place "Dark Lady" in the same league with Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" and “I Don’t Like Monday’s” by The Boomtown Rats.

Death-songs

Speaking of their "Copacabana" video, watch some bad, unenthusiastic lip-synching and awkward dancing from a dapper and youthful Barry Manilow in that video. He even does a Cher-like costume change!

I love that guy. “Don’t fall in love. Don’t fall in love.”

They also list "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere and the Raiders (see the stats article).

CherhairFashion

Is Cher hair still a trend? The article references Kim Kardashian but she just cut her hair.

Thanks to Cher scholar Tyler for this article on the Five decades of Cher outfits from CBS News.

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P.

Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour producer Chris Bearde has died. Mr. Cher Scholar always snickers these days when the credits roll and his name appears as chrisbearde.

Cher-chris

Cher’s late-1970s manager, (before 80s-era Bill Sammeth), Sandy Gallin, (whom for years I thought was a woman) has also died.  (Thanks Cher scholar Michael for that link.) Another story from the gruesomely named Deadline.com.

Cher-sandy

This TV site mistakenly attributes Cher’s tweet about Bearde to be about Gallin.

But on the brighter side, Cher says her mom is doing better.

Cher80sMovies

I've been finding a lot of interviews on YouTube that were obscure since the 1980s. I will try to blog about them as I can. This is one of the best, a great German interview for Witches of Eastwick and Cher's Geffen Records era debut.  In it, Cher says she and Sonny were the first hippies in the world.

 

GlencTelevision

Cher scholar Tyler found this amazing bit of scholarship on YouTube, a fascinating medley between Sonny, Cher and Glen Campbell, a medley proving that when art is concerned, conservatives and liberals can get along.

 
You can also watch the full 1976 episode of Sonny & Cher on Donny & Marie

Dandm


Cher News: Billboard Awards, Classic Cher, Armenians, Birthdays, Right Wing Media

Cher-billboardBillboard Awards

The big news is that Cher will be on the Billboard Awards May 21, (a day after her 71st birthday), at 5 pm Pacific, (check your local times and stations), to receive the Icon award and to sing "Believe." News announcing the award:

- http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Cher-to-sing-Believe-at-Billboard-Music-Awards-11120512.php

- http://www.eonline.com/news/848448/cher-to-perform-live-at-an-award-show-for-the-first-time-in-15-years-you-better-believe-it

I heard this and wondered, doesn’t Cher already have a Billboard award from the 2000s. I checked Wikipedia's Cherwards page and found she's won the Artist Achievement award in 2002 (see pic to the left with her son Elijah, who considerately matched his hair color to her dress).

What’s the difference between these awards you may want to know. Cursive research shows nothing. This is the Billboard list of award categories and who has won the big categories like Artist Achievement and ICON. The Icon Award gets a dedicated Wikpedia page for some reason but with no explanation worth the effort: " to recognize music singers and contribution."

Here is Steven Tyler announcing Cher's Achievement award in 2002. It seems like a "lifetime achievement" from how Tyler frames it - the definition of longevity - and Tyler gives no mention of what the award recognizes or represents officially. These awards seem willfully vague and I'm starting to dub them Empty Hat Awards. Not that it's every boring to watch Cher win awards. Or satisfying for Cher scholarship.

Cher-vegas-coverClassic Cher Show

More press for the Classic Cher show from a Cher cover story in Vegas Magazine.

https://lasvegasmagazine.com/entertainment/2017/apr/28/cher-las-vegas-park-theater-monte-carlo/

https://vegasmagazine.com/cher-on-sonny-bono-oscars-and-vegas-residency

This led me to find other covers of Cher’s millennial Vegas shows:
 

Vegas2000s Dfb6d5c3ee1f9256ca4cc377948ba425

 

 

 

  

Promise2The Armenians

PromiseCher recently attended the premiere of the Armenian Genocide movie The Promise and has been promoting it. From Armenian Radio.

You can also see who else is promoting the movie. And see a story about what Cher wore to the premiere. More from Extra TV.

Cher was photographed on red carpet with Armenians Kourtney and Kim Kardashian. Story on Daily Mail saying they could be sisters.

Paparazzi also caused a scene chasing Cher while she was going out to eat.

After news of the Met Gala this year, Cher said she might attend next year. Time Magazine covered this story.

Politics

Last week was yet another example of seeing the lowdown right wing media lies in action. Various conservative news sources, led by Breitbart News and FOX News, gleefully ridiculed Cher's dismayed tweets about the health care bill passing in the U.S. House. Slate correctly reported that Cher's comments had been misconstrued. (No shit?)

For years they've tried to label her a has-been, (she's winning a Billboard ICON award this month), and yet right-wing media never stops trying to ridicule her tweets. The effort never quite goes mainstream for them. In the infamous words of Trump: So sad.

Birthday!

Cher celebrates her 71st birthday this month. See other famous 1946 birthdays.


Nerdy Cher Stuff: Poetry & Statistics

Javier-collectionPoetry

It’s very exciting for me when my poetry and Cher blogs overlap. That’s the kind of nerd I am. And they have been overlapping lately.

I finished another year of the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) challenge, which involves writing a poem a day for the month of April. No easy feat, especially when you commit to following the prompts, which I did this year.

The prompt of April 26 was to write a poem about how an archaeologist in the future would make sense of our culture. In my poem, archaeologists uncover my garage full of Cher memorabilia. To the left is a picture of Cher scholar Javier Ozuna's very fine Cher collection. Mine is not nearly this extensive but imagine archeologists coming upon this scene and trying to write up a thesis on it.

It’s rare that I do a Cher poem. I don't know why. I think I’ve only done two really crappy ones and those were over 20 years ago. I called this poem “The Relics of Very Tiny Religions.” 

I'm back to enjoying the Cher/Sonny & Cher shows on GetTV. There have also been quite a few skits that are new to me. Either previous TVLand of VH1 episodes skipped them or on was a fully new episodes fro me.  This segment floored me. It's a bad recording from a bad recording but it’s Cher reciting the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling.  Cher references the cartoonist Sergio Aragonés, who you might recognize from 1970s MAD magazines and books. Cher, like everybody else, can’t help but recite in “the poem voice,” a kind of plodding tone everybody uses when reading poems for some reason. There are some prophetic moments of the cartoon and poem, including...

Narcissm If

 

 

 

 


...the bits about narcissism and political corruption.

There’s more Cher/poetry commentary to come because I’m really into protest poetry right now  and reading the mother anthology of protest poetry, “Against Forgetting, 20th Century Poetry of Witness,” the first section of which is poets of the Armenian genocide.

ReadersguideStatistics

At work I often do usage research on Google Analytics and keyword research on Google Trends. When I start to learn any new research tool, I always test it out by plugging 'Cher' into the system to see how it works. I've done this my whole life, since learning how to use the green periodical lookup books at the school library when I was a tween.They were very boring books but led to all the articles of Cher in People Magazine and Ladies Home Journal that I could check out in the library which was a great incentive to plunging into the nerd universe.

Anyway, plugging Cher into Google Trends led me to discover two great new-to-me Cher sites:

Paul_Revere_And_The_Raiders_-_Indian_Reservation And I've had Google Analytics on my blogs for over a year now. The most popular page result is a blog post I did in 2008 about the fact that Cher did not ever release a recording or perform live the song people search for as “Cherokee People” or “Cherokee Nation.” The song is actually a Paul Revere & the Raiders song called "Indian Nation." I tallied up the results from an entire year and 649 people made that search and visited my blog to be disabused of that erroneous belief. A huge amount of people associate Cher with that song.

Last month my search queries also showed a very funny result for “cher all i wanna do is make love to you lyrics” confusing bombastic Heart with bombastic Cher. Due to this I looked up that song. On Wikipedia it says:

Heart-80sAnn Wilson commented on the band's dislike for the song, stating, "Actually we had sworn off it because it kind of stood for everything we wanted to get away from. It was a song by "Mutt" Lange, who we liked, and it was originally written for Don Henley, but there was a lot of pressure on us to do the song at the time." Ann Wilson has made a number of comments on her dislike for the song, calling the song's message "hideous" in an interview with Dan Rather. In that same interview, Ann mentions that she's surprised at how many of their fans, especially in Australia and New Zealand, want to hear the song to this day when Heart plays live (Heart does not perform it live anymore despite the requests).”

Watch the video.


And We’re Still Talking About Believe

Believe boxAnd there were a few articles recently commemorating Cher's 1998 song "Believe":

20 Biggest Singles By Female Artists (Metro UK)

Revisiting Believe (thank you to Christopher)

Also, The Voice auditioner Taylor Alexander surprised the show's judges with a countrified cover of "Believe" that I actually liked. I tend to like the country versions better for some reason.  I’m not a huge fan of "Believe," truth be told, but I will defend it if pressed. How often does that happen, you might wonder. Well, last week actually.

I’m taking an Central New Mexico Community College class online on pop culture and during two weeks ago we read this essay: “Seduced by ‘Perfect’ Pitch: How Auto-Tune Conquered Pop Music” by Lessley Anderson. The author states, "The Auto-Tune or not Auto-Tune debate always seems to turn into a moralistic one, like somehow you have more integrity if you don’t use it, or only use it occasionally." Our discussion question was, how could a music debate turn into a moralistic one?

This was my (ahem) very lengthy response:

Discussions about Auto-Tune turn into moralistic debates because they can’t turn into craft debates. They are similar to debates about other film and sound engineering technologies going back to soft-focus filters on Bette Davis.

It is immoral to come across as more talented than you are? This seems to be the issue with Auto-Tune’s vocal pitch fixing. Many critics believe singing is either a honed craft or a punk rebellion against craft. As a dance track, “Believe” isn’t punk enough a rebellion. Also, Auto-Tune is a tool used for chasing perfection.

America is obsessed with perfection: models are airbrushed in magazines, viewers protest when someone sings out of tune on live show, we are even fearful of singing in public ourselves due to our less than professional imperfections (Drew, 270-286).

Yet Americans also have an obsession with authenticity. It’s hard to find a music genre devoid of affectation around authenticity. And because judgements about music resist objectivity, (e.g. what matters most: reviews, awards, record sales, concert sales, legions of fans, breaking records, longevity? *), we resort to moral judgements around who is more ‘real.’

However, it was more than Auto-Tune compromising the song “Believe.” Ever since disco, dance music has been criticized for political and social reasons (Myers). Cher herself has always struggled for respect. Sonny & Cher were not seen as authentic folk artists and Cher was not perceived as an authentic rock artist in the 1970s or 80s. In the mid-80s Cher earned respect for acting performances. Now, ironically, her success as a celebrity on Twitter has been attributed to her level of authenticity (Wortham).

If we truly believed in authentic moments, we would be attending only un-mic’d live performances and not purchasing any recorded media. Cher and the producers of “Believe” used Auto-Tune in a novel way and whether you like the sound or not, this amounts basically to learned preferences and biases, not objective aesthetics.

 

*Cher has hit all these metrics and yet is still not respected as a musical artist.

Works Cited

Drew, Robert. “Anyone Can Do It: Forging a Participatory Culture in Karaoke Bars.” Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture, edited by Henry Jenkins, et al., 2002, 270-286.

Myers, Ben. “Why 'Disco sucks!' sucked,” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2009/jun/18/disco-sucks, Accessed 8 March 2017.

Wortham, Jenna,  “There’s Only Love and Fear: On Cher’s Twitter,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/magazine/theres-only-love-and-fear-on-chers-twitter.html?_r=0, Accessed 8 Mar 2017.

The Influence of “Believe”

  1. “Believe” covers and mashups span pop, electronica, rock, heavy metal, country and hip hop. Believe was even covered as a sensation on The Voice this week.
  2. Believe – Cher
  3. Believe – MNEK
  4. Believe – Robbie Fulks
  5. Believe in You (Cher & Ariana Grande)
  6. Believe in Sexual Eruption (Cher & Snoop Dogg)
  7. Believe (Cher and Portishead)
  8. Believe (We Found Love) (Cher and Rihanna)
  9. Believe (Cher and Lady Gaga)
  10. Believe (Cher and ACDC)
  11. How Will I Believe (Cher and Whitney Houston)
  12. Believe it Right (Cher and Nelly Furtao)
  13. Do You Believe in Intuition (Cher and Shakira) 
  14. Hot N Believe (Katy Perry and Cher)
  15. Believe in my Religion (R.E.M. and Cher)
  16. Get Up Believe (Skrillex and Cher)
  17. Bulletproof Belief (Cher and La Roux)
  18. Believing On My Own (Cher and Robyn) 
  19. Believe in Sweet Dreams (Cher and Beyonce)

Cher’s Culture Influence & Songs We’re Still Talking About

SonnycheralbumdudsI’m reading 2016 issues of The New Yorker and came across a disparaging joke about Sonny in a satire piece about zen mantras. Which was very irksome; but then I saw some Rock Legends episodes and the one on Roxy Music reminded me of the always-impressive longevity of Sonny’s “The Beat Goes On” as it appears in the Roxy Music song  from 1975 “Love is the Drug.”

Last month I posted a link to the article The 7 Faces of Cher  which does a wee bit of Cher scholarship in trying to categorize facets of Cher’s career. This article does a similar thing: “Cher – the ultimate pop icon” from Getintothis, Beats, drones and rock & roll.

Some other good stuff:

Madonna, Guns N Rose and Cher Had the Best Songs of 1989 (Inquisitr)

5 Times Cher, Nicki Minaj & Others Pulled Off Lil' Kim's Pasties Look (Billboard)

PaulAnd when I last talked about the song “Bang Bang,” I forgot the whole reason I had brought the song up, which was coming across this album online, an album my parents had in their collection (of a few Paul Mauriat albums), 1967's masterpiece of covers, "Blooming Hits" which I was fascinated by because the woman is naked, painted and gasp not airbrushed! It also has a cover of the song "Mama" which is very proud of itself. According to the liner notes:

“[Mama] emerges as a musical distillation of the composition….the harpsichord is pleasantly evident, but there is also an incredible horn solo complete with scat riffs…Hardly as Mr. Bono imagined, but nonetheless extremely successful.”

Which lead me to this album, More Mauriat, from 1966 which has a cover of "Bang Bang."

Elevator music you can play in your own home!


Bang Bang, Anderson Cooper, Lily Tomlin and Cher Scarves

Petula CLIFF_RICHARD_BANG+BANG-200822

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bang Bang

I recently found some more "Bang Bang" covers:

Petula Clark (1966)

Cliff Richard (1970) He does a gender switch that doesn't quite work but there are some interesting string arrangements.

Did I ever post Lady Gaga's version? (2014) Meh.

Peripherals

Anderson Cooper talks about how Cher was his mother's (Gloria Vanderbilt) fantasy daughter and how Cher now calls him little bro and how charitable Cher's been since Cooper reported on Hurricane Katrina. (The Huffington Post)

Lily Tomlin talks about working with Cher (Parade)

How Cher Succeeds (Fast Company)

Cher Scarves

Cher called into Home Shopping Network earlier this year:

Visit the main scarf page: https://shopvida.com/collections/cher (and don’t miss the video shot at Cher's house.)


Movies, Music, TV - It's All Happening

Chermakeuptips2016Current Events

Wow. So much is happening right now. It's overwhelming.

Here's the lowdown:

- Cher's involved in a TV movie about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
- The documentary In This Climate should be coming out soon.
- Cher talking to the Washington Post.
- Cher's new song "Prayers for this World" will come out in the documentary Cries From Syria directed by Evgeny Afineevsky. HBO will air it.
- Cher is being sued over the typeface art of Closer to the Truth. (The rags TMZ and Daily Mail reporting this.)
- Jack in the Box tacos have been in the news.
- The Broadway Cher show continues to percolate. The New York Times article an all the diva Broadway shows and Playbill's article on the January reading.
- Cher tweets about the heartbreaking passing of all the celebrities over Christmas:

"This is tragic. I loved Debbie, she was tough, funny, told the best old 40's-50's showbiz stories and lived through Hollywood bullsh*t. A huge testament to her".

"This is beyond heartbreaking. Debbie was an idol... I have seen Singing In The Rain a million times. Loved all her films... Words are inadequate."

So sad about Carrie and George, I have no words. I keep forgetting and then suddenly remember. Such great artists dying, and many are too young. Am heartsick."

"Talked to her on the phone: ironic, sarcastic and hysterical at the same time. Went to a few wacky Penny [Marshall]/Carrie Birthday parties".

"One time I was talking to George at a disco. I got up, danced six songs, came back, leaned over him, and didn't realize that I was sweating drops all over his shirt. We laughed."

- More media love for Cher tweets: "Cher’s Twitter is the only pure thing left in this world" and "Find a Tiny Bit of Solace in This Cher-ified Chick Emoji."

Cher News is Back

And I'm happy to report that Cher News is back! Actually, it's been up since last March! So much I missed. Go here for all your up-to-date Cher news.

Daniel Wheway, the site's mastermind, has some eBooks out now too:

Cher Bible Vol. 1 and Cher Bible Vol 2. I've downloaded them but haven't read them yet.

Speaking of eBooks, I've also downloaded the eBook Cher Toons by Scott Clarke which was very fun and also just purchased Scott's physical coloring book version.

But over the past year almost, Cher News is packed with awesome stuff (if you haven't checked it out already). There's info about the Syrian documentary, and Cher's song on it, "I Got You Babe" made it into the Grammy Hall of Fame and you can watch clips of Cher on ET (October 6) and Extra.

Daniel also did plenty of scholarship last year, posting Cher rankings for Billboard's Roundups including 100 Greatest Acts of All Time (Cher ranks #43 and Daniel notes she is the 16th highest female solo singer), Vogue's list of 22 Fashion Icons from the Music World (Daniel's recap), Marie Claire's reporting on plastic surgery requests and Cher's jawline (truly odd but interesting), Daniel also recaps a few Oscar Roundups from Vanity Fair, The Independent and The New York Times, and About.com ranks Cher songs (Daniel's recap).

He also reports that Get TV only purchased 30 Cher shows. Has anyone else heard about this?

And two big bombshells:

1. I missed the AXS Cher Biography from last year. Does anybody have a copy of this?? Looks like it has some good talking head Cher scholarship! Watch the trailer.

2. Cher posted a video of makeup tips! How awesome! 

So don't miss your Cher News!!

Old Stuff

Recently I came across Paul Mauriat's musak version of "Mama." And we watched the Johnny Cash Christmas special on GetTV over the holidays. I learned that "Someday" is a Gene Autrey song! The Johnny Cash Christmas special was amazing. Watch the Sun City Studios reunion of artists, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison sing "This Train."  (Wow…that’s some great TV right there). And the whole cast does an amazing "Children, Go Where I Send Thee."

Whew! And that's just the first two weeks of January!

 


Cher's Cover of Walk on Guilded Splinters

GsHuh...so those are the lyrics.

I recently came across the differing versions of lyrics to "Walk on Guilded Splinters." One of my favorite Cher songs and one that was most likely the closest single to my birth date in 1969.

Cher's lyrics on Google Play

Dr. John's lyrics on Google Play

They're very different. Huh. Cher is singing: Kon killy, killy kon kon. Who knew?

Here is a good video essay of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNd40VOQmPY

 Je suie le grand zombie!


The I Paralyze Re-Release

Ip3The re-release of the album I Paralyze came out recently with a booklet of liner notes by Quentin Harrison whose bio talks about “equalizing the commentary field for music in need of critical dissemination.” Sounds a bit wordy but surely good for cultural re-evaluations of Cher. He says she is, “instantly synonymous with glamour, empowerment, humor and wit” and that “her reach has extended into both music and acting, forming a two pronged approach to her legacy.” Do legacies have prongs? If so, Cher has more prongs than two. The great thing is, Harrison interviewed album producer David Wolfert who provided valuable insight into this obscure album as being one of the “pockets of lost Cher music” which I take to mean awesome but underappreciated Cher albums. Harrison lists 3614 Jackson Highway, Bittersweet White Light, (a controversial inclusion but one I agree with), Stars and I Paralyze.

Harrison talks about Cher’s “pyrric stay at Casablanca records." I looked it up: pyrrhic means "won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile for the victor." I'm not sure how to use this adjective with Cher's Casablanca albums. Two were not that victorious at all. One is arguably a good disco album. He calls Take Me Home “shrewd but satisfying.” I can accept that. Prisoner he calls “muddled.” Ditto. He says Cher signed with Columbia in 1981 while she was launching an acting career in New York City. He calls this “Cher’s most cohesive LP since Stars.” TMH seemed pretty cohesive to me if too light. Cherished was cohesively kitschy.  

David Wolfert says, “We didn’t want to make a dumb pop record, neither of us were in the mood" and that they worked to streamline "the ambition of Black Rose but avoiding the fluff of Prisoner.” He talks about “the sensuous, sci-fi grove” of IP. Wolfert wanted make an album you’d listen too from end to end.  “We took a long time to decide what order things were in...Cher and I talked a lot about the sound of the album…it wasn’t going to be slick, it wasn’t going to be overproduced.”

IpWolfert said he went through a thousand songs and narrowed a list down to 40 or 50 and Cher and Wolfert picked from those. Cher brought in “Rudy” and wanted Wolfert to write with Desmond Child [on “Walk with Me”] “which was fantastic,” Wolfert says. Harrison describes the song “Games” as “the shadowy ballad gave Cher’s contralo room to breathe." Wolfert says “We worked long and hard on that one, especially the vocals.”

Wolfert wanted "Walk With Me" to be first single instead of "I Paralyze" but Cher scholar Dishy reminded me that it was actually "Rudy" that was released as a single first. “I wasn’t around for the decision,” Wolfert says, adding IP was recorded “as an afterthought because they thought it had the best shot of being a single.” This sounds like Cher’s first overproduced moment. I doubt "Walk with Me" would have fared better.

I remember reading my first People Magazine Cher album review about swallowed vowels. This People Magazine review was not what I remember but it's interesting nonetheless:

This album seems largely a regression, with Cher yelling her way through such adolescent rock ‘n’ roll as Rudy, Games, Back on the Street Again and The Book of Love (a new song by Desmond Child, unfortunately, not the old Monotones hit). It’s hard to tell how seriously she’s taking all this, since her delivery often sounds as if her tongue were literally as well as figuratively in her cheek. There are two interesting tracks. One is I Paralyze, co-written and produced by John Farrar with the intriguing tone and synthesizer feel he used on Olivia Newton-John’s Physical LP. The other is a Micheal Smotherman-Billy Burnette tune, Do I Ever Cross Your Mind, a slow, moody piece in which Cher seems to be drawing on her talent and experience instead of the same kind of awkward, unflattering decorations she uses on her body.

[They did not just go there.]

Cher_i_paralyze_vinyl_back_coverThis Popdose review has another take, saying the song IP sounds like an outtake from Olivia Newton John’s album of the same era, Physical.  Let’s revisit a few of these ONJ Physical tracks for comparison:

- Landslide:  This songs has really full drums and depth and more unique accents than the IP tracks.
- Make a Move on Me: This song has hit all over it—what a great aerobic song it was. It probably encapsulates my entire philosophical and sexual ethos at age 16. Unfortunately, my love life then was as hot as Olivia Newton John’s dancing.
- Physical: Just tighter sounding than IP.
- Recovery:  Wow. What a video. Men inexplicably in a cage. This reminds me fondly of John Wait’s video for his song Tears.
- The Dolphin Song: The pre-teen animal rights activist in me loved this song.

“We all felt that record was under promoted,” Wolfert argues. According to Popdose: Cher only made “dulsatory (“marked by absence of a plan") appearances on Solid Gold and a rapidly aging American Bandstand to market it.” I’ve never seen the Solid Gold episode.

“No one tells Cher what to do,” Wolfert says. We’ve heard this sentiment from time to time since the late 1970s from producers of her solo albums. Is this an overreaction to a decade of being pushed around by Snuff Garrett and Sonny in the studio?

The liner notes talk about the album’s “polite touch of new wave.” And here is where the album's issues sit, in the new wave sensibility of its sounds and photo artifacts. Something about Cher just doesn't meld with New Wave. Yes, Cher…an artist who can meld with just about anything.  I actually like this album but I can completely see why it didn’t fly with new wave audiences.

Rudy – I liked the new tough-sounding belting from Cher, especially at the bridge but the music seems too low and muddled, not defined. The song could have kicked ass with more oomph from the backing vocals, keyboards and drums. Overall, it’s a kid-culture fail. There are also some awkward moments on the “why-y-y” and the “Remember” vowel slippages. But this is only recently post-Black-Rose and Cher is just getting her rock-voice legs.

Games is a lovely vocal and a great potential format for a Cher song. It’s a smart lyric about life experience. The metaphors are good but the production feels like a demo instrumental. There are more vowel slips. Like “Rudy,” it needed more instrumental texture. The guitar bridge almost sounds like a Little River Band song.

I Paralyze is fun but like a drum-machine among plodding instrumentals. Her vocals are fine but after many years I still can’t parse out some words and phrases. In fact, I could use help with the chorus if anybody knows the words. "Everybody’s sober and no one lies?" "Green as a dollar bill" or is it "greed as a dollar bill?"

Ip4When the Love is Gone - Again I like this song and its movements from soft to hard. But the piano just doesn’t sound present. Again it's just demo quality. The bridge sounds very similar to Earth Wind and Fire’s "After the Love Is Gone" (1979) without that song’s soft groovines. I have listened to this song probably over 200 times since 1979. The words in the bridge I cannot decipher at all.

Say What’s On Your Mind is ok. Some fine belting.

Back on the Street Again - What is not to like here? The original is great as it is,  (although, I could digress with a whole other post about that red jumpsuit). The synthesizer is a bit cartoonish and Cher inexplicably went safe with “gave every night” instead of “came every night” but then wanted to be on the “street again” instead of on her feet. Is this an empowering 80s woman “taking back the night” moment? Is it best not to represent anyone as being overly orgasmic? She gives the bridge a strong go of it and I imagine she probably loved the guitar part. It’s the best track on this album, IMHO. I was irked by the liner note’s attempt to correct the misspelling of The Babys with the dumbfounding possessive The Baby’s instead of The Babies (the baby’s what?) and then calling the song in the liner notes “Back On My Feet.” There are more than a few typos in the booklet.

Walk With Me is the Desmond Child song with typical Desmond Child atmosphere and his recognizable 90s pop-rock transitions. This song could easily have found itself on any of Cher’s Warren-Child infused Geffen albums. Similarly, it’s repetitive and plodding.

The Book of Love is very 80s-campy. I like the Michael Myers sounding piano and the bitchy chorus. “Chains of lovers” recalls the 80s magazine profiles of Cher with the obligatory sidebar of her love relationships. Another good guitar solo.

Do I Ever Cross Your Mind ends the album on a Allman-esque country note. It’s a quiet, sincere vocal although you have to sit through a dated keyboard arrangement in order to enjoy it.

This expanded edition of the album gives us two alternate versions of "Rudy," both with an alternate bridge of “I Love Yous” that was probably good to dispense with.

All of Wolfert’s instrumental tracks are included as well. Do these instrumentals add anything since they’re not that impressive in the first place? Not that they’re necessarily bad but it makes me wonder if  someone involved in the project preferred the album without Cher in it? David Wolfert maybe, considering "I Paralyze," the John Farrar’s single is the only track lacking an instrumental doppelganger?

To be fair, these are some interesting experiments in Cher doing new wave and it sounds like she is enjoying doing it. But she’s better suited, dare I even say it, to Bon-Jovi rock. Cher is too much for this genre.

The album does get good Amazon reviews and it’s one of Gordon Ashenhurst’s favs.  He says, “of all her Geffen releases it is only on I Paralyze where the one-size-fits-all power-rock formula is not relied upon” Oh, he says she’s singing “you’re as real as a dollar bill!” Huh.

  


Sonny & Cher on GetTV Weeks 3 and 4

PolkadotsI am getting whiplash or with these shows bouncing around. Week 3 takes us all the way to the end of 1973 in Season 4 for the episode Years Part 2. Yes, it’s true, we haven’t even seen Years, Part 1 yet. But as it turns out, the originals were never aired back-to-back either. They were shown two months apart. These are nostalgic, where-are-they-now episodes with musical guests from the 1960s.

Wolfman Jack starts things out by getting his Sonny & Cher records ready. He has an unbelievably hairless chest. Sonny and Cher come onstage in rainbow, polka-dot ensembles singing the Danny and the Junior’s song, “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.” All the guests appear on the opening stage to sing the opening medly--all which makes the iconic opening feel cheapened and crowded. The nostalgia feels particularly manic, as well. Neil Sedaka sings “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” at the piano, Peter Noone, who never looks very comfortable, sings “Henry VII,” Paul Anka croons “Diana,” and The Coasters sing “Charlie Brown” with odd hitch-hiking choreography. Sonny & Cher provide backup through all this and everybody has coordinated, white suits. I have to say, I've never liked these Years episodes, back from when I first saw them on our cable access channel back in the early 1980s. It’s like a blast of kitsch coming at you too fast and furious.

In the opening  dialogue there’s a boob joke, a Sonny naked joke, and a Watergate joke. As Cher sings, we get a glimpse of early giggle TV. Her garage-door blue eye shadow is impressive, however. Wolfman Jack introduces another “Sonny & Cher mythology” skit that again tells the story of how they went from rock stars to nightclub entertainers to TV stars. At this time, tabloids had already started publishing stories about big, behind-the-scenes blow-ups between Sonny & Cher, going as far as to dub them The Bickering Bonos. They bicker throughout this skit, too, with short jokes, Indian cooking jokes (Sonny complains about her Buffalo pizza: “I’m still picking arrows out of my teeth”), Italian-mother fat jokes, nose jokes, jokes about Sonny’s musical pedigree. It’s interesting to note how these ethnic jokes might have signified entirely different things to people back in 1973. I would still like to know how the history of Cher’s use of Indian iconography and genealogy is perceived by actual American Indians (then and now).

ComicMurray Langston is seen prominently in this skit at the bar. Mr. Cher Scholar and I just watched Chuck Barris’ The Gong Show Movie (not the same movie as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) in which Langston’s portrayal of the Unknown Comic stands out. The movie also shows an amazingly young cameo performance by Phil Hartman.

They air an old video performance of "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," the one with the yellow fringe dress and the gypsy wagon. GetTV airs a skit about fathers in the waiting room that I had never see aired in the TV Land before with Teri Garr playing a nurse among new fathers who are losing their minds.

The concert portion is a medley held together by the song Peter, Paul and Mary song “I Dig Rock and Roll Music.” Cher wears a red dress and a red bobbed wig. Everyone else is coordinated in suits of black and red. It’s all very manic like the opening. It’s interesting that none of Phil Spector’s acts were hired for these nostalgia shows. I’m surprised that Neil Sedaka is taller than Paul Anka and I’ve always had those two confused.  The Coasters sing “Poison Ivy,” Neil Sedaka sings “Calendar Girl, Peter Noone sings “I’m Into Something Good,” Paul Anka sings “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” S&C sing “All I Ever Need Is You” (hey, these S&C songs aren’t all that nostalgic so far; they’re recent hits!), The Coasters sing “Yakety Yak,” (and I really don’t dig these gimmicky songs), Peter Noone sings “Mrs. Brown,” Neil Sedaka sings “Happy Birthday, Sweet 16,”  S&C sing a very affectionate “I Got You Babe,” Paul Anka sings “Lonely Boy,” and S&C end the marathon with “All I Really Want to Do” in a very similar arrangement to what Cher uses to sing the song to this day.

GetTV does not air the 1960s-era Vamp skit which includes a skit with the Maharishi and Marilyn Monroe. I remember the TV Land version itself included some Batman characters in the recap but an actual Batman skit was missing from the aired sequence.

PantsuitWe fly back to 1972 with Merv Griffin's second appearance on the show in March. This is the season 2 finale. I’ve decided the opening cartoon sequence cartoons probably deserve their own future study. Sonny & Cher sing The Temptations’ song “Get Ready” in yellow and white suit and pantsuit. Cher does hair swings, there are short jokes, mother is fat jokes, sex jokes. Sonny calls Cher a tart. The show is actually pretty good at conversational humor. Sonny gets trumped in a verbal exchange and swivels the dialogue with a “Well, anyway” and this gets a big laugh. Sonny shakes his fist at Cher at one point and they discuss resorting to personal digs when you lose an argument. Sonny shoulder punches Cher and she hits her knuckles into his chin in response.

Cher sings “The Way of Love” in a pink dress with a big flower in her hair. This is her ultimate torch song. There are great camera flares off the flower. This is followed by The S&C stomp, a song and dance about “the craze” of their current popularity. Sonny & Cher lead four sets of Sonny and Cher impersonators in a dance celebrating their quirks and postures: Sonny pointing a finger at Cher, Cher throwing back her hair, their hands on their hip, shoulder socking, Cher folding her arms and giving the cold stare. They sing about the “goombah beat” (another slur on Sonny’s Italianness). They are laughing at themselves, figuratively and literally. It’s early meta and proves why Cher would be great singing Ben Folds Fives “Best Imitation of Myself”  because there is nothing impersonators have ever done with her that was anything she hadn't already parodied about herself first.

Cher’s Vamp dress is red, red and her hair is curly. I’ve always wondered why a vamp theme necessitated pizza parlor laps hanging above the stage. In the Bonnie and Clyde sketch, Merv and Cher play Bonnie and Clyde. Cher sings a provocative intro with “Bonnie shows him how to load his gun.” Merv frets about a prison full of “men, men, men” and Cher says “Sounds like fun.” Cher undresses Sonny and they crack up after a mash-up kiss. In the Theda Bara skit, Cher wears a metal bra identical to the shape of her Take Me Home album breast plates. Sonny makes me crack up when he yells “Oh Sheik!” instead of “Oh Shit!” Six men climb out of an urn to expose Cher’s infidelity and she is not only unapologetic but she talks her way out of it. Sadie Thompaon, Cher’s Mae West, does the same. She says, “I can’t change my ways! I can’t even change a tire!” They make an Arthur Treacher joke I completely didn’t get.

Gypsy 9

 

 

 

 

In a Fortune Teller skit (compare Cher 70s teller to the one in 9: The Last Resort), Sonny endures  short jokes while Merv gets delivered Miss Universe. Sonny sings Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life” while photos and video show Cher and Chastity playing on big screens. This is early reality TV. The green screen cuts off the top of Sonny’s head. Sonny & Cher lip sync their hit, "A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done” with Cher in a bobbed wig, black halter top and fringed skirt. Her rib is sticking out prominently. Sonny has nothing much to do but look tough. I love this song. The line “I play games now but it’s not fun” hangs there in the ether giving the thought time to sink in.

TV Land cuts the Cultural Spot on Vlad the Horror which is a shame because it has a good cameo by Steve Martin in it.