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Karaoke Cher, I Got You Babe DVD and LP Covers

Karaoke1_2 I was Cher Scholar at no charge for two of my friends this week. A high school friend of mine who now works in Las Vegas as a singer and dancer was looking for a karaoke CD with "The Way of Love" on it. I’ve only ever been to karaoke as some sort of birthday obligation. So I wasn’t well steeped in Cher karaoke CDs although I knew there must be a plethora out there. This gave me a good opportunity to peruse the market.

You Sing The Hits Of Cher

This has nine tracks: 2 from the dance era, 4 from the Geffen era, and 2 from 70s narrative period. There’s also "Shoop Shoop" which always sounded like a lame karaoke song to me anyway.

Hit Songs of Cher [ENHANCED]

Ooh...enhanced. This one has 10 tracks: "Believe" ( vocal and one karaoke version although I don’t know the difference), 4 from the Geffen era, and 4 from the 70s narrative era.

Cher's Greatest Hits Vol. 1

This one has 16 Tracks: 3 dance era, 8 Geffen era (including "Shoop Shoop"), 3 70s narrative tracks, and the recent "Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered" (although to me that's quintessentially a Barbra Streisand song) and "Bang Bang" (which is either the 60s or Geffen era version).

Chartbuster Karaoke: Cher [ENHANCED]

What does enhanced mean for pete’s sake? This one has 12 tracks: 6 dance era (including "Runaway" and "Believe" twice…listed as mix, guide tracks or performance track...I'm so confused!) and 6 Geffen era tracks.

Hits Songs of Cher (Audio CD)

This one has no song list. Buy at your own peril.

Chartbuster Karaoke: Cher

This one has 15 tracks: 5 dance era tracks (including "Song for the Lonely" and "Different Kind of Love Song"), 5 Geffen tracks, 3 70s narrative era, and 2 60s era.

This one spelled Gypsies as Gypsys. I hate that. I really do.

Sing Like Cher Karaoke2_2

This one has 10 tracks, all from the Geffen era.

Sing The Hits Of Cher and Donna Summer (Karaoke)

Odd combination…but okay. This one has four obscure tracks from the Believe album ("Dove L’Amore" being the only exception) and four obscure tracks from Donna’s album ("This Time I Know It’s For Real" the also has Summer's version of the operatic "Time to Say Goodbye" except the words are "I Will Go With You.")

Pocket Songs Just Tracks Karaoke - HITS OF CHER

No list.

Radio Starz - Cher’s Karaoke Anthology

This one was sent to me by a Cher yahoo-groups member. It’s the only one with "The Way of Love" and seems the best value with 22 tracks as follows.

  1. Believe - Cher
  2. A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done - Cher
  3. If I Could Turn Back Time - Cher
  4. We All Sleep Alone - Cher
  5. The Way Of Love - Cher
  6. After All -Cher
  7. Strong Enough - Cher
  8. You Better Sit Down Kids - Cher
  9. The Beat Goes On - Cher
  10. Dark Lady - Cher
  11. Baby Don't Go - Cher
  12. Half Breed - Cher
  13. I Got You Babe - Cher
  14. Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves - Cher
  15. Bang Bang - Cher
  16. I Found Someone - Cher
  17. Just Like Jesse James - Cher
  18. The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) - Cher
  19. All I Ever Need Is You - Cher
  20. Take Me Home - Cher
  21. Little Man - Cher
  22. All Or Nothing – Cher

This is also the only one with "Cowboys," "The Beat Goes On," "Baby Don’t Go," "I Got You Babe," "All I Ever Need Is You," "Take Me Home" and "Little Man." All but two have the four signature songs: "Believe," "Turn Back Time," "Half Breed" (all but three) and "Gypsies." I didn’t see any CDs dedicated to Sonny & Cher.

I did my primary serach on Amazon but you might Google around for the right CD at the best price.

Last week a friend and I went to see two movies from the 70s at one of Santa Monica’s art house theaters. We saw Diary of a Mad Housewife which was interesting but pointless as the Leonard Maltin book says. I say what a doormat! This was followed by The Last of Sheila, a wonderfully fun who-done-it with a great cast including Dyan Cannon, Raquel Welch, George Mason and written by Anthony Perkins and Steven Sondheim.

Both movies featured Richard Benjamin; it was like a Richard Benjamin festival. Benjamin was great in both of them but I still blame him for Mermaids. After the movie my friend gave me two Cher albums he found at used record stores.

One was Bittersweet White Light. I said I didn’t know what the title meant. We laughed about Cher’s cover photo where she's piled with turquoise and fur as if to say "I’m rich!" On the back cover she looks way too thin and there’s another infernal essay by Sonny about how Cher makes one feel when she sings. I hate those essays. But I honestly love this album. I know some think it’s god-awful but I really don’t understand the particulars on why. These funky standards are way cool IMHO. More creative than her versions on TV.

The other LP was a Canadian Mono print of In Case You’re In Love. Another odd title. In case you’re in love what? Both my friend and boyfriend were flabbergasted over the outfits on the cover. I love the back photographs in Europe (they look so bored) but the middle photo makes me dizzy. I think they’re trying to hypnotize us.

This week I finally received my Sonny & Cher I Got You Babe DVD. This is a German production that looks like a fancy bootleg. I can’t figure out how this thing was ever made and approved. It’s very mysterious consisting mostly of some of their more mundane TV show live performances; these are not clips I would pick. Oddly the first one ("A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done") has the album track over-playing the TV show footage. The rest are live for the most part.

The track listing was not on Amazon:

  1. A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done - From their early 70s show.
  2. The Letter - From their early 70s show.
  3. All I Ever Need Is You - From their early 70s show.
  4. Bad Moon Rising  - From their early 70s show.
  5. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show/Mr. Tambourine Man - From their early 70s show.
  6. Cry Like a Baby - From their early 70s show.
  7. I Dig Rock 'n' Roll Music (with Bobby Vinton, Frankie Valli, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry and I just realized Jerry Lee looks like that jazz pianist I used to date) - From their early 70s show.
  8. Bad Bad Leroy Brown (the very kewl cartoon) - From their early 70s show.
  9. Let Me Down Easy - From their early 70s show.
  10. Love Grows Where My Rosemary Grows – I hadn't seen this one before and it has interesting camera shots from behind left stage (including an great audience shot) and a front tracking shot like they never did. Very disorienting because it's so unusual. I wish they had done these kinds of shots more often.
  11. Out of Sight/Get Ready - Hadn’t seen this one.
  12. Sonny & Cher Stomp - Hadn’t seen this one either but it's a great self-deprecating send-up of themselves and their mannerisms complete with dancers.
  13. Silly Love Songs (with Donnie & Marie) – This one is from their later 70s Show.
  14. Without Love – Late 70s Show
  15. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing – Late 70s Show
  16. Little Man – This was an awesome rough video clip from the 60s. Worth the whole DVD.
  17. I Got You Babe - Old video footage we've seen before.
  18. What Now My Love – More greatness...seems like old live footage. Loved it!
  19. Let the Beat Go On – This is a really odd outro to the DVD with quivering still captures from the clips above...all backed by an indecipherable song. Those Germans.
  20. Biography – This is useless, impossible to read as it scrolls by too fast.

This DVD wouldn’t play on my TV player; it said the new DVD was dirty. It played fine on my computer, however.

I’m headed to St. Louis this weekend for the funeral of my friend’s father. Very sad. Joe Wiskirchen was a recent visitor to Chez Edgar (he even tried to instill discipline in him as did my mother to no avail) and was a move review contributor to Ape Culture. Needless to say he will be missed.


Bad News Birthday

Cher_birthday_flyer1_3 Cher is 61 years of lovely living now...very well done. Her birthday was last weekend. Fans rejoiced all over the globe. Drank Dr. Peppers while listening to Cher's greatest hits compilations. By the way, I recently drank a Dr. Pepper when my office ran out of diet Coke...and this is after I went and said I wouldn't a few posts back. Can I say I love that my office provides free soda?

Unfortunately, I’ve never been a big birthday celebrator. Once when I was thirteen I threw a dinner party on Sonny's birthday. I remember my friends all seemed very confused. "Why are we celebrating Sonny Bono's birthday?" But that was my last blast. Like my birthday, it's just another day.

Unfortunately for me, Cher's birthday is not just another day. Unfortunately, two years ago her birthday began to mark a sad historical event in my life...the night when I caught an ex-bf out with another gal at a somewhat steamy movie on a Friday night when he had previously told me he had to baby-sit is his three kids that night. I came to find out, in the span of five minutes of shock and awe, that the person I had moments earlier thought was a stand-up character and attentive parent was actually an habitual liar. Sobbing did ensue. And all this soon after an unfortunate stint with a jazz pianist who wasn’t all that into me, as that bestseller so kindly put it.

They both came around, I guess, after I had moved on and was then harder, if not impossible, to be regot; and that alleviated the pain somewhat but it was definitely a particularly rough time for me that night of May 20, 2004, when I was cursing Northern Irishman and jazz pianists the world over and getting drunk on some mysterious green concoction my room-mate made to drown our stunned sorrows.

That night also reinforced in me what I’ve been saying about LA for years: it’s is a small, small town, smallest town of any city I’ve ever lived in. I lived in NYC for four years and never once ran across anyone I knew on the street or anyone who knew anyone I knew. In LA this happens all the time. Someone walks in my office and I know them through another friend; an interviewer knows someone’s wife whose husband I used to work with. Co-workers know other past co-workers. How could it happen in all the gin joints of LA, I would walk in on my cheating this outrageously sprawling metropolis?

Maybe it was a strike of good luck at the end of the day. At the time, it felt terrible...very bad-luck-Cherbdayshowad_2 like. I don’t particularly like the day May 20 any more. I tread though it very carefully something bad might happen or because that old shell shock demands my respect.

And it never helps that there are always a smattering of blogs and sites out there which commemorate Cher’s birthday with cracks about plastic surgery next to photographs of her now and back the 70s with pig-tails. This is simply a 21st century annoyance we must now bear as fans of the unwitting poster-child of cosmetic enhancements.

I came across another despicable site this week, one describing ridiculous and unnecessary tabloid tactics, this one regarding Cher’s reaction to Sonny’s death. Simply gruesome in its dehumanization of celebrities. Also disturbing is the reference within the page about a celebrity who participated in trying to generate their own tabloid coverage.

Speaking of my room-mate who fed me powerful alcoholic concoctions I so needed two years ago on Cher’s birthday...she is going through a tough time this week. I was set to fly out to meet her in St. Louis this weekend. We were going to make a cross-country drive from the Gateway Arch to LA to move her ailing Dad. Sadly, his health took a turn for the worse in the last few days. All plans to move to LA were canceled. She could definitely use your thoughts and prayers at this time.

On the brighter side, Cher’s birthday did bring about two fan gatherings last weekend. One in Chicago (pic top), hosted by "Chicago's Very Own Cher" at the Kit Kat Lounge complete with a "Turn Back Time" martini and large video screens playing "Mermaids" and "Moonstruck" all night. I would totally have gone to that if I lived in Chicago. We never get stuff like that out West.

New York City also loves Cher (pic to right). A 61st birthday party was hosted by Cher Connection on Saturday near  Madison Square Garden. Check out Cher Connection's fan gathering photos.

And one of my poems was just published in the Spring 2007 issue of The Wisconsin Review (Vol 41 Issue 2), a poem called "At 5th and Pacific." This is a little lyric about passion in life and wanting to bust out. It’s my veritable I love a parade poem and one you may find useful if you wind up having a sad week like this.

You can order a copy for $5 at: The Wisconsin Review, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, 800 Algoma Blvd., Oskhosh, WI  45901.


Sonny & Cher Scholar

Sc Last week I was discussing Sonny’s role as a Cher peripheral. While I was taking a walk yesterday and listening to my iPod I realized this was an egregious error on my part. I was walking with my iPod in tow. S&C were singing "Something" off their 1971 Live album. The song came up on my shuffle right after Verve’s "Bittersweet Symphony."

I was thinking it would be a right neat-o thing to be able to talk to one of S&C’s pre-Toto band mates about Sonny’s tendency to punctuate his musical transitions to Cher or the band with dictations such as "Talk about it – go ahead!"

Did they think that was an effective exclamation or did they giggle behind their drum sets? Or did they think it was just plain ridiculous and eye-rolls ensued? I actually love those little blurtings, myself. They’re a circus sort of "take it away!" moment in the live songs.

And the fact that I spent 10 minutes walking and thinking about it makes me think maybe I’m a Sonny scholar? And I never call myself a Sonny Scholar. But the honest to goodness truth is that at age 5, circa 1975, I was really a bona-fide dye-in-the-polyester Sonny & Cher fan...from the beginning. It was my first aesthetic inclination as a consumer of the popular entertainment arts. So why not be a Sonny & Cher scholar, then?

Well...because it sounds very nostalgic (a) and (b) it sounds defined to just that era, as if my interest ends where that act broke up finally in 1978.

Ah...I remember my innocence back in 1979. It was all too clear we were due for Simply Cher Solo ahead. There would be no more TV shows, albums or concerts from Sonny & Cher. I harrumphed and supposed I could continue on as a Cher fan. Although I doubted she would be interesting enough. I had a hard time conceiving of her as an artist entity without Sonny. I even went cold turkey for a year in 1980.

I remember Cher lamenting how boring her show would be if she just sat there on a stool and sang. Imagine: Cher thinks she might be boring. All too much pointless worrying on her part because that seems to be genetically impossible.

And not only did Cher continue to be interesting, when I was twelve I discovered I could look up Cher albums on the card catalog computer at the library. Cher research never looked back. I subsequently learned how to use those green periodical guide books, microfilm and microfiche machines, and the Internet all by looking up Cher stuff.

But anyway, this is all to say Sonny is abused by being considered a peripheral player in the Cher story and in my celebrity obsession in total. He’s just been sort of the silent player since 1978.


Elton John Influenced by Cher?

Eltonjohn1 For the last few weeks I’ve been obsessed with a VH-1 show called Classic Albums. It’s similar to my obsession with Project Runway in that I love to see a project come together. I love to learn how artists of any kind make choices and decisions along the way.

Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was an amazing episode of Classic Albums. Many iconic albums seem labored over. Not this one. It’s like he whipped it out and went home early. One comment he made was very interesting to me as it related indirectly to Cher.

Elton said he started out only wanting to write songs with Bernie Taupin. He didn’t want to be a lead singer or be a singer at all. But they couldn’t find anybody who would record their songs. So they decided to record their songs themselves. They decided Elton would sing; but it just as well could have been Bernie. And Elton said that by the Yellow Brick Road album in 1973 he had finally come into his own singing style. Before that, he struggled to define a style.

Which is interesting because in a few earlier recordings it always seemed to me like Elton John was trying to sing like Cher. In fact, in the mid to late 1970s when I would often hear the song "Levon" on the radio, (Levon was a hit in 1972), I didn’t yet know who Elton John was and I would always be confused. Is that Cher? I don’t think that’s a Cher song. How could there be a Cher hit on the radio and I wouldn't know about it? (I was seven or eight and already a know-it-all Cher Scholar beeotch.) But yet it sounds just like Cher!

Later when I knew it was an Elton John song, I still thought it sounded like Cher.

Speaking of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, does anybody think "Bennie and the Jets" sounds like an homage to S&C-like acts? Or more specifically about a group like the Ronettes but with the fashion sense of Sonny & Cher?

...Hey kids...(something, something, something)...electric music, solid walls of sound...(blah, blah, blah)...have you seen them yet...oooh, but they’re so spaced out...they’re so weird and they’re wonderful...Bennie, she’s really keen...she’s got electric boots...a mohair know I read it in a magazine...b-b-b-Bennie and the Jets...

According to VH-1 Classic Albums, the audience sounds are all fake, complete with British peoples clapping on the off-beats as apparently they are rhythmically challenged this way.

Turns out the audience cheering is from a Jimi Hendrix show! And people give Cher drama for her fake voice box bits. Hmmm. So it’s only cool when Elton fakes it...dressed in feathers.


Happy Mother’s Day!

Getting_makeup_with_kids_2For all the vampy mothers out there...

I wonder who picked up more makeup tips here: Chastity or Elijah? I never watched my mother put on makeup because my mother always puts on makeup in the car.

Best Movie Mom

Cher was listed as one of the best movie moms. Ah! That’s sweetness. She’s played one kick-ass moms. Was she technically a mom to that monkey in Good Times? No, I guess he was just a house guest. They did have that bald son chopping wood out back. In Witches she was a mom. Her teenage daughter looked put-upon...and frustrated about where to put her Richard Simmons video tapes amongst all the giant booby doll sculptures. In both Mask and Mermaids, Cher-as-mom always did a big scene of yelling, not a lot of cooking (a roast and some finger foods), and always flirted with men about town.

Does this describe your mom? My mom is unlike any of Cher’s movie moms. It’s a stretch but maybe she’s like Ben’s mom in Mask except she doesn’t ride a Harley or smoke pot. A few years ago, my mother wrote in to Ask Cher Scholar. This is a good excerpt of some of her ongoing concerns.

Which Cher Movie Mom is your mom most like?

Does Your Mom Look Like This?

Demanding Moms

Does your mom demand that you send her a physical card for Mother’s Day and not just an e-card? Mine does. I learned that the hard way last year. I call this a Mom Rider (a list of things Mom demands).

Concert riders are discussed on the site After Ellen. The comments about Cher made me laugh out loud.

Cher — If you've ever seen Cher live, you know she changes her costume more than she sings songs. In her rider, she requires a room just for her wigs. Cher also refuses to wear a backstage pass. I'll give her that one: if you don't know Cher on sight, you have no business working at an arena.

Here’s more of Cher's rider on Smoking Gun.

I hope everyone has a good Mother’s Day: whether your mom is cool, dysfunctional, or has passed on.


Star of Sonny

This week’s news is that Cher helped her sister purchase a modest home in Malibu – which is not to say they paid a modest amount for it. I figure maybe too many girl fights ensued in Cher master bathroom and so Georgeanne and her husband had to move out. Or maybe Georgette ate the last dollop of Haagen Dazs one too many times. Cher World has the news post.

This is unfortunate news. Not because it’s bad news but because it’s not important news. Now Cher-sister and Cher brother-in-law will have less privacy and more Cher-peripheral gawking from drive-bys.

Peripherals, especially peripherals who have chosen to lead non-celebrity lives (okay, she married Michael Madsen first and was on General Hospital as a young lass...but that was years ago) should be afforded more space than peripherals who are seeking to crack the Entertainment Industrial Complex, as Maureen Orth might put it.

Interestingly, Cher and her only sibling seem to have a close, collaborative relationship. But I’m just not as fascinated by this aspect of Cher’s life, at least not as much as other celebrity-obsessed folk are. I guess if you were Cher’s biographer, these details would be crucial and I have no doubt (believe me) that family members play a role in your creative and business decisions to a far greater degree than we would all expect or like to admit.

So I’m not saying Cher’s relationships aren’t pertinent factors, they just aren’t particular interests of mine in a way that whatever arguments between Sonny Bono and Snuff Garret during the All I Ever Need is You recording session had on the final outcome of the album are.

I’ve talked about this before on Ape Culture, right after I attended the first Cher Con and realized there was something different about me.  Here I was so excited to have found other Cher fans out there...finally. And yet, we didn’t quite click. I blame myself.

I categorize the celebrity obsessed into three camps: 1) those in love, clearly the worst; 2) those in illusionary friendship – obsessed with meeting the celebrity and knowing what is going on in their lives at any given moment – not healthy either due to its delusive nature; and 3) those who are obsessed with all the stuff and analyzing the stuff in ridiculously exhaustive ways. The later would be me. I would argue that this is the healthiest, aside from its conspicuous consumption aspect. But then I’m partial to my own delusions of rationality.

I’m much less interested in who Cher goes to dinner with, where she gets her tacos from or what brand of mud mask she puts on her face. I’m not going to run out and buy Dr. Pepper or the books she reads or the perfume she wears. It’s just too much intrusion on my time and identity; forget about hers. And besides, with the blog , the website, the 25 boxes of memorabilia in my parents’ basement 300 miles away in Amish Country, haven’t I put my myself and my family through enough?

Some peripherals, however, are of note: children involved in entertainment or spokesperson sorts of professions and lovers who have done creative projects with Cher...which pretty much includes them all: Sonny Bono, David Geffen, Gregg Allman, Gene Simmons, Les Dudek, and Rob Camilletti (a name I will never learn to spell) in a cameo sort of way. If they didn’t help produce any Cher product (Val Kilmer) or if no Cher product refers to them, my interest wanes.

Geffen helped transition Cher from one half of a duo to solo artist extraordinaire. Gregg Allman’s role was far less direct. He inadvertently exacerbated Cher’s tabloid presence (as if her divorce didn’t get enough ink). He also contributed to an aborted concert tour, appearances on her TV shows (as a guest or via his progeny), and an unlikely but well-made studio album. His presence and drug issues also disrupted Cher’s output and schedule during the late 70s.

But of all personal relationships, Sonny is the most crucial. He was the creative developer of Cher version 1 and 2.0. You could make another matrix of Cher’s distinct work phases based on him: 1) Cher with Sonny (early 1960s to 1973); 2) Cher rebels against Sonny (1974 to 1998); and 3) Cher post-Sonny (1998 to present – there’s not so much to rebel against in this phase and she seems almost more professionally at peace).

Sonny Bono’s Walk of Fame star in Palm Springs was rededicated in early April.  It was first placed in May of 1996, a few years before his death. A Cher fan posted the AP story recently in a Yahoo! group. We Cher freaks missed it as we were too busy fruitlessly discussing whether or not Cher will work Vegas next year and how soon we are going to be able to pre-order the new Barbie dolls.

Reading this news reminded me that In 8 months Sonny will have been dead 10 years. I can’t believe it. Apparently Cher sent an audio message to Palm Springs for the re-dedication ceremony that none of the AP reports saw fit to quote.

I wasn’t able to find a great picture of his star online...but I did pictures of his $100,000 statue which looms nearby at 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive. Here it a Monet-like Impressionistic study of the statue at different times of day.

Is he wearing a jumper?


Version in the night-time


Version in close-up color


Shot from below



Longer Sonny re-dedication story in The Desert Sun paper.

A Woman’s Story

Cherspector Last week, an I Found Some Blog commenter kindly posted a question. What do I think about the single “A Woman’s Story,” he asks, I’m guessing in light of all my recent Phil Spector bashing.

Well, I like the wall of sound. I really do. I appreciate it. But I also feel Cher is a wall of sound unto herself and two walls of sound can make one feel a tad claustrophobic. That said, this single and I go a long way back...

The first time I heard the opening bars was in background footage of a documentary that had Sonny discussing his feelings about Phil Spector...the same early 80s Spector documentary I mentioned a few blog posts back. Not only was it a Cher song I had never heard before (and I thought I had all the albums by then); but it sounded crazy-cool. Haunted. Unlike anything I had ever heard her do. And she’s recorded in every conceivable style, so that’s sayin' somethin'.

It was the mid-80s and I was 15 or 16 years old. I had no Cher community. All I had were record guides from Waldenbooks at the mall. I would scribble down record lists on the back of envelopes without paying for the books. This was before the big chain bookstores encouraged you to sit for a spell and read all day.

There were no good Cher discographies or biographies out yet. The J. Randy Taraborrelli book might have been out but I hadn’t read it yet. So I was on the lookout for the song but I didn’t even know the name of it.

Soon after I got my driver’s license (the summer of 1986), I was still terrified to drive on the highways. So one Saturday afternoon I took a very slow, surface-street drive across St. Louis to make it to the south county used-record stores. I found the 45 sitting innocently in a huge 45 bin. I bought it for $1.50. Can you believe it? I paid $75-100 for similar Warner singles years later on ebay. When I got home I was immediately in trouble for making everyone late for an Olan Mills family portrait sitting. But I didn’t care because I loved my trip to get that 45. I was finally breaking out and finding hidden treasure!

The song’s writing credits are Spector-Tempo-Stevens. Which looking back now, the lyrics feel slightly woman-hating, in a sort of “I’m-trying-to-be-sympathetic-but-I’m-showing-my-hidden-prejudices” sort of way. Especially depending upon how you interpret “woman.” Is this woman the universal woman or one particularly unusual woman? In any case, woman equals whore. And if you’re following the Spector trial, he has a tendency to generalize all women as whores. His high school girlfriend claimed he had jealousy issues. Which links quite easily to “if you sleep with anyone other than me you must be a whore.” It’s disturbing how far we can take this train of thought.

But let’s separate these latest unsettling allegations from the song itself, a ballad about a lonely hooker. What an awesome opening: shrill, creepy backups until Cher’s voice comes rolling in.

I would almost think the wall of sound would suits Cher’s voice; it tries to coat her vocals in sound. But in this case, it’s too loud. Cher sounds a bit unenthusiastic, mumbling a few words. Then again, Cher might be performing a very convincing depressed character.

The biggest problem is that the song sounds too dated for the mid 70s. It sounds very late 60s which was such a specific sound remarkably tied to its time. But then even the backup “ahs” in the middle of the song are too clunky for the late 60s. 

I both love and hate this song's oddness, its tripped out atmosphere; but I’m glad this wasn’t the sound that Stars turned out to be. “From now on I say hell no.”

The B-Side provides us with more Spector: “Baby I love You,” a remake (and some say dis on the Ronnie Spector original). Again, another song on drugs. But I still love parts of it. I love the ethereal texture of the introduction, the heartbeat bass, the vulnerable way Cher sings the verses, not teenage-frantic like the original. A great quiet performance by Cher (lovely falsetto). Kim and Kath would say “It’s nice. It’s unusual.”  I even love the outro with the free-style guitar.

But then by the time the chorus comes around, you feel like you’re listening to molasses. A musical goopy mess. The song feels like a single-engine plane that can't quite take off. Double Darn It.

Then there was also “A Love Like Yours” by Cher and Harry Nilsson. Same story: dated, maddeningly-slow, messy. I can’t even understand what they’re singing. Plus it seems like a rip off of Dylan’s  “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” The whole thing is labored, plodding and lifeless; although it almost sounds like Cher is screeching at the end. 

Speaking of Phil working with Cher, we can’t forget her first studio performance, “Ringo I love You,” a bizarre sounding thing, a garage-band guitar, Beatlesque tempo and yeah yeahs.” And still, the song has no omph, it’s so slow. A flat, Frankenstein vocal performance, too.  This was an unfortunate way to introduce Cher to the public. Many thought she was a man singing. But I think she sounds more exotic than masculine.

The best wall of sound Cher song, in my humble opinion, is “Dream Baby.” And this was a Sonny Bono interpretation of the wall. I only have a stereo version on my iPod. Does anybody out there have the mono version? What’s the difference?

Anyway, Sonny captured a Ronettes-like sound except Cher’s makes it a Gothic girl group. Her 60s voice can sound amazingly innocent and experienced at the same time. It’s a great, simple vocal. And Sonny does the right thing by tempering the wall of sound so as not to compete with Cher’s voice. The percussion sounds cleaner and the sax is fun. It’s like a little wall Cher can sit on and kick up her feet.


Notes on a Week

Spectormohawk Phil Spector Paper Dolls
It’s not funny. And yet it is. No it isn’t. kinda is. Choose a Phil Spector hair style.

LA Bookfest
LA Bookfest last weekend was great! Saw two poetry panels, one on book reviews and one on California and the American Dream where everybody pretty much agreed the California dream is dead...but the weather is nice. But seriously, stop coming. There’s not enough housing. And isn't it always people like me who get here last who say that the loudest?

I also saw Mark Doty  read in Poetry Nook. Wonderful reader. Even if you’re not into poetry, he’s very funny and poignant, as they go. Also made a crazy-cool discovery: children’s music maestro Justin Roberts and his Not Ready for Naptime Players. It was even worth sitting in a sea of squirming toddlers to see him. He was that good. His songs are catchy kewl even if you don’t have rugrats of your own. I mean who hasn’t been frustrated waiting for a late yellow bus? The memories are still fresh. Plus his music is as sharp as Ben Folds and his humor on par with both Ben and Sufjan Stevens. Highly recommended.

And no, I did not hear anything Cher should cover. (Oh for the love of Pete, now I have Cher singing “My Brother Did It” stuck in my head.)

Don Imus
This week MSNBC has been filling Don Imus’ spot with a hodgepodge of talk show temps. My favorite early morning radio show host, Stephanie Miller took over early this week. Seeing as Cher was an occasional Imus show call-in, particularly regarding US troop support, I wonder where she is turning for her morning radio needs. Does she miss Imus? Was she ever disturbed by his occasional off-color commentary? I suppose she is probably reluctant to turn the dial over to Howard Stern (who I used to listen to quite happily before he went cable, but who wouldn't discuss US Troop issues with her as much as he’d inquire about the apparatus size of each of her former lovers).