Very few performers could have survived the kind of career Cher has had and remain as popular today as they have ever been. At times, her career was almost certainly dead, and the fact that time and time again the woman finds a way out of the rut and back into the spotlight is testament to her determination, work ethic and her underlying want to always remain relevant.
Back in the mid-‘80s, Cher was enjoying one of those “up” times. After years of trying to be taken seriously by Hollywood, she had finally forged a credible career as an actress, taking on roles that were challenging but would prove to be rewarding in more ways than even she could imagine. After making six films in five years, Cher was finally living her dream as a well-paid and highly sought after actress. But, of course, she couldn’t leave well enough alone, and after not having a hit record for over a decade, the fighter in her took over and Cher set about securing a record deal to prove she could still cut it as a singer.
Cher was given an attractive offer from her ex-flame David Geffen, and in the summer of ‘87 she got to work and begun recoding her nineteenth studio album. Cher had flirted with rock before for zero reward. Her 1977 collaboration with then hubby Gregg Allman, Two The Hard Way, bombed so badly that when she again made an attempt to front a rock outfit, she did so uncredited with Black Rose in 1980.
This time, she would not be denied, and after several shouting matches with Geffen she got her way and called in some pretty hefty help. That help came in the form of namely Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Michael Bolton, Desmond Child and, er, Dianne Warren. The instructions were clear: it had to be rock, it had to be “sexy,” and it had better be a hit. Pleasingly, it turned out to be all three.
“I Found Someone” (penned by Bolton) opens the album and was the first single released. It’s a slick rocker with a slightly haunting arrangement that became a Top 10 hit the world over. It’s still, however, best remembered for the video which starred Cher and her then-boyfriend Rob Camiletti, the first of several. “We All Sleep Alone” was the Jovi/Sambora/Child collaboration and one of the album’s highlights. The breezy arrangement is a perfect match for Cher’s deep, throaty delivery.
“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” written by Sonny Bono, was originally recorded for Cher’s second solo LP, The Sonny Side Of Cher. It’s completely different from the folksy original in every way. Here it’s a given an overblown rock arrangement and Cher is backed by her producers chanting the chorus. “Main Man” is a straightforward rock ballad penned by Child. Cher gives it all she’s got and it leads perfectly into the enchanting “Give Our Love A Fightin’ Chance.”
Now, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Dianne Warren’s work by a long stretch, but “Perfection” is hands down the best song she has ever been associated with. She wrote the song with Desmond Child and it is easily the most rewarding and original song on the album. Backed by the likes of Darlene Love and Bonnie Tyler, Cher gives one of her best vocal performances to date, interpreting Warren’s personalized lyric: “Gave it all, played me part / I gave everything I had but my heart / Worked so hard, made a name / But the loneliness inside stays the same.”
“Dangerous Times” is the only subpar song on the album. It just sounds a bit muddled compared to the rest of the stellar material on offer here. But redemption is immediate with the pure pop charms of “Skin Deep” which sounds like a leftover from Madonna’s True Blue album. “Working Girl” is a Bolton/Child pop rocker with a great lyric that Cher delivers with gusto. The album closes strongly with the power ballad “Hard Enough Getting Over You.” It’s defiant and longing at the same time, and once again Cher rises to the challenge and delivers a stirring performance effortlessly.
Cher became a bigger hit than anyone involved had hoped for. It resurrected Cher’s dormant recording career and the singles performed well enough to keep her on heavy rotation on MTV for much of 1988. It would be the first of a trilogy of albums made for Geffen during her highly successful “metal babe” persona, which the award-winning actress pulled off with ease. My only criticism of this album would be the slightly muffled production. The LP on vinyl still sounds fabulous, but the CD is long overdue for a re-mastered release. Cher remains an awesome slice of ‘80s pop rock delivered with panache by a very underrated singer.
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