Dancing Queen


Warner Brothers, 2018


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Cher’s career now spans some 57 years and continues to be one of the most diverse and celebrated in all of entertainment history.  The catalyst for her most recent studio album (number 26) was her appearance in Ol Parker’s Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, for which she recorded both “Fernando” and “Super Trouper.” Such was the buzz at the time and Cher’s eagerness to get back into the studio (a new world tour was already being slated for a late 2018 kick-off) that an idea that seems ridiculous on paper was somehow the most logical choice at the time.

Cher’s long-time producer Mark Taylor jumped on board and the pair knocked out a small bunch of ABBA songs in a matter of weeks. Musically there are no surprises here; the arrangements are true to the originals and the tracks themselves feature a surprising number of real instruments which is a nice change, as Cher has been rooted firmly in the electronic sound of “Believe” for the last two decades.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Cher’s singing on the record is inspired and carefree, and it sounds like she had a blast recording this. Despite a couple of tracks that feature the dreaded vocoder, her voice has largely been left untouched, which again is pleasing to her as at 73 years young, she still has plenty of vocal power left and it’s nice to hear her using it here. ABBA’s catalogue is full of exuberant pop songs that are so catchy that even if you can’t stand hearing them, you can probably sing them in your head word for word.

Because Taylor and Cher were smart with the selection process by keeping it to just 10 songs and a little over 40 minutes, Dancing Queen never wears out its welcome; it’s upbeat and good fun – exactly what it should be. The tracks themselves are updated in sound only and for the most part it all works effortlessly well. The ballads are obvious choices and come all together to close out the album. “Chiquitita” is a definite highlight, hearing Cher sing with restraint and genuine feeling is so rewarding. “Fernando” fares just as well, “One Of Us” rises ever higher with Cher delivering a powerful performance to compliment the slower, piano-led arrangement (the only true departure on the album).

I don’t count myself as an ABBA fan, however there is no denying that their divorce anthem “The Winner Takes It All” is an amazing song. The rendition here, though, seems to fall flat and is really the only choice here that I’m not sold on. Other highlights are as expected; “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” is anthemic is the club banger “SOS.” “The Name Of The Game,” “Mama Mia” and “Waterloo” are all slick updates and the title track finds Cher singing right at the top of her range – however, she pulls it off with panache.

Dancing Queen was a surprise to me upon first hearing it, as I had very low expectations, but two years on and it still sounds fresh and has lost none of its effervescence. As for Cher herself, she is still out there on her appropriately titled Here We Go Again world tour, which I caught in October 2018, and the ABBA medley and one of the most enjoyable parts of the extravaganza that is a Cher show. The woman is a trail blazer, icon, legend…and long may she reign.

Rating: A-

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