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Cyndi Love

Cyndilauperredphoto_2 Okay...I lied. Five posts. This week Cyndi Lauper speaks well of Cher in an article promoting the True Colors extravaganza.

In the San Fansisco Bay Times article she says about touring with Cher:

"Cher was amazing!  She was so respectful. She didn’t treat me like an opening act at all. She really gave me the ability to put my own part of the show and evening forward. And come on!  She’s Cher.  How can you not love sharing the stage with Cher?!  It was a great experience."


New Cher CDs

Emicheruk_2 I received my new EMI Cher re-releases last weekend. EMI-UK has produced some new Imperial collections. One is a new compilation called The Best of Cher The Imperial Recordings 1965-1968.

They’ve whittled her Imperial stock down to...huh? 44 tracks? It’s not so much a question of why they included the songs they did, but why they rejected the one or two songs they didn’t include. And yet some of my favorites were still left out.

The CD has nice packaging. I love the colorized photos in the compilation, and the well-chosen black and white photos inside.

EmicherusBut it’s no match for US EMI retrospective that came out years and years ago Legendary Masters: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down): The Best of Cher which had illuminating session out-takes (“Needles & Pins”) and b-sides (“She’s No Better Than Me”), plus very nerdy liner notes. They also managed to make those tough-love choices, whittling down her Imperial catalog to only 22 tracks.

The other EMI-UK release is a double package of Backstage and Cher's very first solo compilation, Golden Greats.

I ordered my first LP copy of Backstage from a used record store I found in a record guide when I was 13 years old – I anxiously awaited a live 60s album! Boy was I disappointed. But I got over it and learned to love “Take Me for a Little While,” “The Click Song” and “A Song Called Children.” I had already fallen in love with “Masters of War” from a 1978 Sonny & Cher compilation I had called The Beat Goes On. I remember, age 8, forcing my parents to sit in our living room in our blood-red, American-Furniture-style chairs while I played them this Bob Dylan dirge on our old mammoth phonograph. After it was over, they said "Very nice, honey" and went back to the Den to finish watching Roots.

Backstage ended up becoming one of my favorite Imperial albums next to With Love. Read my Cher Scholar reviews. I’ve been waiting a long time for a good CD re-release after suffering an awful bootleg or two. And that’s the best thing about these releases. A re-mastered CD is a joy to listen to. I’ve even started to appreciate “Carnival” more this week.

Backstage_2 The Backstage CD includes all the original artwork. But the extra wrap of cardboard is over-packaging uselessness, annoying to deal with when getting your CD in and out. This booklet also overuses the Cher on the throne picture, on its cover (see the background fade to the left) and in various spots in the booklet. Although, she does wear a very Paris-Hilton expression in that photo.

The CD also includes the original liner notes to Backstage and Golden Greats. Sonny elicits a couldn't-care-less statement from Cher. "You’ll either like me or you won’t." So transparent. Strangely, the Golden Greats liner notes seem different than the notes on my US LP. I remember this only because Golden Greats was the theme of my last Cher Zine. Does anyone know if the UK packaging for this compilation was always different or am I imagining things?

The new releases both have pathetic new liner notes that offer nothing new or insightful. Spartan career overviews are useful only for newbies when probably only die-hards and Cher historians will be buying this CD (there are very few real hits on it).

A side note: it really irks me when Cher biographers don’t listen to and speak about all her albums, like Backstage. The lady recorded over 35 original albums. Whether biographers like them or not is irrelevant; pay diligence fer Christ sake.

Elijah Unplugged?

Elijah No...silly. Just two new solo songs on his Myspace page:

Long Way Down

This is a sweet love song, but in that adorable, Deadsy-goth style. (My schnauzer ears go huh?) Same vitriol, “nothing really matters at all.” So why bother listening? I like the fade, though.

White Knuckle Angle Face

Yes, it’s hard to compile an image of a knuckle face. But I like this one better. The vocal has lightened up noticeably. Those retro-synth sounds of Deadsy are still there; but it’s an LRB-Cool-Change. It makes me wonder what 'Elijah having fun' might sound like. His creepy voice returns, however. (Come here Fido! Come here! Let go of your inner Goth, Fido. Drop it! Droooop it.)

Actually, the interplay between his two voices creates an interesting tension here. Although I have no idea what the lyrics are on about. I can barely decipher the words. But does it matter?

Teri Garr Dishes an Empty Plate

Speedbumps_1_2 For a long time I’ve been meaning to blog about Terri Garr’s book Speedbumps, Flooring it through Hollywood which I finished reading last year. I relished the opportunity to read this autobiography for some rare insights it might have provided on behind-the-scenes S&C Comedy Hour drama. I also wondered what she’s say about working with Steve Martin.

The book was largely disappointing. I’ve summarized almost all the Cher encounters and comments below (there were so few). Garr talks at length about her struggles with MS – definitely important to cover; but the title of the book leads us to believe we’ll be getting dish about her day job, not a book primarily about MS. Garr has had a successful and interesting career in television and movies. She egregiously glosses over most of her work, giving some movie classics only a sentence or two! The book is plain, uneven storytelling. She spends paragraphs explaining how she met Mr. Right: how they met, married and spawned, only to tell us in a pass-off comment in the last chapter that they'd already separated. Garr gives us no explanation as to why or when! She also hints at drama with other mega-stars (Jessica Lange) but never fully explains what happened. It was a frustrating read, I must say. She has previously expressed more emotion about working with S&C on Cher TV bio-pics than she did in this book.

You do get a few stories about her relationship with Steve Martin (who not only wrote for the S&C show but did their warm-up act), how they met working at Disneyland and then on The Ken Berry Show – with Cheryl Ladd of all people, and transitioned to the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour – sans Cheryl. Chris Bearde was a producer on both shows.

Teri calls Cher on TV “a stunning presence...She was pure showbiz.”

I thought Cher was glamorous. She swore a lot, which I respected...What impressed me most about Cher was that even though she and Sonny had topped the charts…she acted like one of the girls. She’d come sit down with all the dancers and talk about face cream or hairdos or men. She taught me to do needlepoint...When I got stuck, I always wanted to know the by-the-book way to fix my work. Cher would simply say, “You just do what you have to do. It’s like life: you don’t have to play by the rules. Just get it done.”

Garr mentions this funny encounter: Cher was sizing Teri up one day backstage on the set. Teri was wearing jeans and a t-shirt (hey, that’s my wardrobe) and

Cher said, “You have to get a look. I have a look.” Looking at her in her black feathers and snake boots, I thought, Yes, you sure do.

Teri claims Cher’s dressing room always had shrimp cocktails and Coca-Colas and racks of dresses; but Cher would come over to Teri’s shabby dressing room to sneak cigarettes.

“That was before we decided smoking was making us look old.”

Garr also tells a funny story about sneaking out of S&C show obligations for small movie roles, telling one casting director who needed her to travel to San Francisco,

“But I’m on Sonny & Cher’s show. We’re rehearsing a Japanese rock-and-roll opera tomorrow. I can’t miss rehearsal!”

Garr also repeats her famous story of learning to speak with a German accent in 24 hours for the movie Young Frankenstein with the help of Cher’s wig-stylist Renata, Garr practicing saying:

“Mein Gott, zis vig veighs forty poundz.”

Garr makes no mention of working on The Sonny Comedy Revue or of leaving the S&C show. They’re both just never mentioned much again.

Cher-Its and Bits

Ford Toodle-loo

My Cher Friends, you will be getting four posts this week. This is because I’m leaving Saturday for nine days of vacation bliss in Amish country, Pennsylvania. The bf and I are visiting my family there for small-towney 4th of July celebrations in Lititz, which is near Blue Ball and Intercourse. You’ve all heard the joke; now I’m living the dream. Actually, Amish country is very interesting, not just for the Amish, but for the other old, alternative religious orders that flourished there in Pennsylvania during the early American centuries. Read previous Ape Culture reviews about Amish country.

Cher Site of the Month

I have been remiss in doing my Cher site reviews for months. But someone on Chergroups found this one recently. It has a Myspace feel but a great catalog of pictures:

Anniversary of an Ending

Tyler from Chergroups reminded us all that June 26, 32 years ago, was a sad day in Cher history: it was the day in 1975 that Sonny and Cher's divorce was finalized in a courtroom in Santa Monica, California.  Happy day for Cher who was preparing to marry Gregg Allman…but what about us???

Songs Cher Should Cover

If Cher were my bf, she'd say "Don't should on me!"

However, I’d really love to hear Cher go spiritual. Her songs of late, like "Human" and others from her last three Warner Bros albums, indicate Cher’s picking of more introspective material. She’d do a groovy gospel  (1971s "Somebody" is a testament to that). She could even give it a California twist. Two songs would easily accommodate: Allen Toussaint's’s recent gem “We Are One” and a song from the last Norah Jones album, “Humble Me.” Not quite the wailers you'd hear in church, but contemplative little pieces about brotherhood and humility. She could still sing them in a unitard with sequins. God can get jiggy with it.

Patty Darcy Jones Has Died

Thanks to Kevin for posting news on the Cher Yahoo group that long-time Cher tour and album back-up singer Patty D'Arcy (married name Jones) has died. You can read the story in the New Jersey Herald.

Cher toured so long with Believe and her Farewell tour, that fans became very attached to her bandmates, as much as they would have to television co-stars on her variety shows.

I have two strong memories of Patty, although she was practically ubiquitous in modern Cher concerts:

1. Whisking past us late one after-concert night. My friend and I were loitering on an MGM casino bench, exhausted from trying to make our way through the labyrinth of that casino to its gargantuan garage when she walked by in street clothes. She looked professional and busy, as if she was just a working gal, clocking out and going home.

2. Singing "Shoop Shoop" with Cher on stage. And as you know "Shoop Shoop" is not one of my favorite Cher bits and it just goes to show what a trooper Patty must have been.

It’s also very interesting to me that, according the the NJ Herald, Bette Midler hired Patty as well. It seems Bette and Cher still have a lot in common; they share the same back-up singer and possibly might soon share the same Vegas stage at Caesars (although I’m not packing my suitcase yet; we’ve been here before my fellow fans. Mame anyone?). I wonder if these two kids have made up...or if the infamous "Cher called Bette a nasty word" spat was just a fake feud. Wouldn't that be funny?

Anyway, enough of that crap. Patty’s passing is really sad news. Our hearts and thoughts are with her friends, family and co-band-mates.

Thank you Patty for shoopin’ us out with your flourishes and harmonies.


We’ll Always Have "Hey Joe"

Chastity What’s taken over Cher mentions on the blogosphere is the latest news from the courts on blasphemous, indecent, potty-mouthed words spoken on prime-time television.

As you might guess from my adjectives above (slight but prejudicial), I support the ruling; and yet I cringe to read over and over that Cher has again become the poster child of bad taste. Not that there’s anything wrong with swearing (I freakin' say more than freakin' off-blog) and not that there’s anything wrong with bad taste (it’s a hellavalot more interesting sometimes than good taste and it is surely the yin that feeds that yang of better taste); but it’s just that one image of bad taste (potty-mouthing) plus another image of bad taste (plastic surgery) plus another image of bad taste (dating younger dudes) or whatever freakin thing it is that family values hates (all arguably okay in my book...we could spend time defending them or claiming they go without defending or who really cares)...but in any case, those images reflect on the image of the product and feed the fire of those who say Cher music, movies, etc., are also examples of bad taste. And that makes me crazy.

Here's a headline from The Boston Globe: "Swearing Cher 1, FCC 0"

I swear because I’m trying to counteract the way I look, which is like Mary Richards. It doesn’t work but I’ve never been fined for doing it.

Here is a link to one super-clueless blog speaking against the court decision. They whine: "if you can still call Cher and Nicole Richie celebrities?"

What the f^*k?

Elsewhere this week, Cher scholar gypsy90028 sent me an email about an chapter of The First Time, Cher’s auto-bio of sorts. Gypsy90028 very adeptly puts it as "written, well sort of, by Cher." He refers us to page 134: "My First Fall From Grace" and asks this question:

What if Cher had not listened to Sonny and went with the Drug Culture not just personally, but professionally???? What would the outcome have been? For her? For him? For the Pop World at large and all us "dyed-in-the-wool" fans? And I wont even get into the Gay Thing concerning Drugs, Partying, Freelove, and Miss Cher. Or should we? Please pontificate if you will.

Gypsy90028 also said:

Its TOOOO HOT in Oklahoma. May I move to CA and live with you and be your Guy Friday/Man Godfrey???(I'm a Gemini,OK???) I promise to cook, clean, fetch and tote fer ya! All I need is a small cot on a backporch, as I will be spending all my free time "smoking, coking, toking and shopping" on the BEACH.

This is very tempting for Cher Scholar because I am swamped this month with deadlines and demands and minor annoying illnesses, not to mention my impending mental-breakdown after which I will probably need fetching and toting. I even have three tote bags for this very chore.

But alas, I already live with a Gemini. Geminis never finish anything. In fact, the bf and I just made a bet that he can’t learn how to sew a pair of frontier pants by September 10 as he is now inspired to do based on our weekend in Prescott Arizona visiting frontier museums and saloons. One of my brothers was a Gemini too and I was able to observe him not finishing things he was once inspired to to. My other brother was a problem-solving Aires and finished everything. His room was full of finished airplanes hanging from the ceiling. The Gemini’s room was full of half-finished projects like make your own moccasins of which there was only ever one sitting lonely in the corner.

But what if Cher and Sonny had gone psychedelic (personally and musically)? This is a very interesting question and I enjoy pondering it. I don’t have my copy of The First Time handy so I’ll have to wing it.

My ponderings have two aspects: could Cher have done it and could Sonny have done it.

Admittedly Sonny’s heart wasn’t in it. I don’t think he could have written drug-culture material for Cher. Inner Views didn’t work out so well as it is. He could have tried to produce her material but without any great sympathy for it, I don’t see success there.

Could Cher have gone on alone without Sonny? What if S&C had ended right there. This would have helped Cher only in the sense that the backlash from Sonny’s drug film and the failure of the movie Chastity might not have happened. The TV show buffoonery and quiet backlash towards Cher as a actress might not have happened. From a rock credibility standpoint, this might have been the best time to split off, the best pre-baffooned image of Sonny to leave. But what a disaster for me! I would never have discovered the beloved TV show as a toddler.

I believe Cher could have pulled off a career in any musical idiom. Yet she’s never seemed very interested in taking in detail about her musical choices. So some people might have thought that direction to be an inauthentic or orchestrated one for her. But there are many famous legends in psychedelic, blues and current legends in rock music that come across as insincere or inauthentic when interviewed about their music. Cher seemed inauthentic often in rock music precisely because they missed the boat on that late 60s musical trend and never quite recovered in the eyes of the rock establishment. Had that not happened, she might have pulled off a groovy late-60s music career. And professionally she might have more credibility today.

A personal involvement with the drug culture might have resulted in more creditability as well, sad to say. My feeling is a drug history always buys you kudos in pop music. There’s that ridiculous idea that succumbing to any kind of decency or weakness means you’re "strong enough to survive" it. Self-reliance is significantly harder to do and yet somehow less respected.

A continued solo career might not have necessitated a TV Show come-back; and that you could argue catapulted them into a much larger fame-o-sphere.

People often ask me how I think Cher would have done on American Idol, as if to say truly original singers never do so well there. But every night of the 70s on a Cher related show WAS American Idol. Everyone tuned in to see what Cher would she sing and wear next and that’s exactly what we say on American Idol. The show is even complete with Simon/Ryan banter and car commercial sketches; it’s a modern variety hour.

Do I wish instead that we had more Jimi Hendrix covers and a cocaine habit? Not really. I'm perfectly happy with the way things are and came to be. Let’s take stock of what we do have: the Jackson Highway album by the producers of Dusty in Springfield where Cher did the last few of her 10 Bob Dylan covers (can you name them all?) after he went electric himself, Dr. John’s "Walk on Guilded Splinters," which is sorta groovy; and we even have Hendrix’s own "Hey Joe" recorded a few years earlier. And it didn't take a shot up the arm to record that.



Cher Dolls Speak to Fan in Dreams

Cher_doll_outfit_foxy_lady First I want to comment about news last week regarding Cher’s redecoration of her house from Goth to a Buddha style, complete with Buddhist tchotchkes and whatnot. On an unrelated project, I’ve studying Zen Buddhism. I scratch my head over this new décor because it’s not very Buddhist to have a house full of Buddhist crap. It would be more Buddhist to design a room with no crap, sit in it and meditate on having less crap.

But who am I to scratch my head? I’m far from there yet, to speak for myself. For instance, I am asking for used Cher dolls for my birthday. Lots of them for an unrelated Christmas art project.

And even my dreams are materialistic. This week I dreamt I was walking through a Target store walking in an aisle by an outside wall (isn’t it weird how you know these odd details in your dreams). I came across a shelf stocked with new Cher dolls and related stuff, all in similar pink packaging from the 70s. There was even a new makeup head; and the doll itself sold outside of a box, strangely, just on a stand (with growing hair potential I could see), and a plethora of hair extensions. I especially remember a purple extension you could slap on the doll's head. I threw one of everything into my shopping basket with great disregard for what it would cost. My dream shopping basket was full.

I’ve had similar dreams since childhood: I’d be in a store and find Cher stuff (usually rare albums with rare songs or out-takes) and I’d feel a little skip-to-my-loo in my heart. But then the dream would abruptly turn into a nightmare where a) I’d have no money and must make Sophie’s-choices between all the new-found treasures or b) I’d misplace the treasures and spend the rest of the dream trying to find them again in a frustrated panic. I should probably tell this all to my therapist.

The aforementioned dream turned into part b. I saw a little girl with a Cher 45 record – newly released to coincide with the doll line. She told me where she found it but there were none left!

What a nightmare, huh?

Truth is with all the drama going on with poetry, my job, my summer trips and my friends, I had completely forgotten about the dolls to be released this month. It’s as if my subconscious was poking me with a stick in my dreams, telling me not to forget to buy Cher dolls! My freakin’ subconscious is so much more obsessed than me!


News Alert: There's a Cher Mashup!

Alright! Thank the celebrity obsessive Gods!! A Cher mashup! Glroy be the day! I love mashups. I really do. DJ Paul V, bless his heart, did mashup of "Believe" with trip-hop band Portishead. I learned yesterday that trip-hop means downtempo jazz-funk. The result is spacey, stylish and eheral. Whoo-hoo!!

Read DJ Paul V's comments

Party with Funk That Sh*t: Believe in Glorybox