Heart Of Stone


Geffen, 1989


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Heart Of Sone is the album that made me a fan of Cher’s for life. When this album was released in June of ‘89, I was almost ten years old and obsessed with Tina Turner and Prince but had absolutely no idea who Cher was. Needless to say, later that year, my birthday and Christmas wish-lists consisted of nothing but Cher albums and singles and whatever else was out there.  I’m still a big fan of hers, and Heart Of Stone still packs a decent punch and was a worthy follow-up to her surprise hit, 1987’s Cher.

In many ways, Heart Of Stone is just a replica of Cher, and many of the folks who worked hard to make the previous record so good (Michael Bolton, Desmond Child, Dianne Warren) were called in again to do the same for the follow-up. Cher’s flame at the time was Richie Sambora, who along with Jon Bon Jovi, Child, and Warren wrote the power ballad “Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore?” So although you could say that both albums are too similar, the saving grace for this one is the quality of the material is just as strong as was Cher’s voice, which was now used to singing again after her five year hiatus from recording. 

Of course, the big hit single that really put this one on the map was the soft-rock anthem “If I Could Turn Back Time,” which not only became a staple on FM radio but its accompanying video helped to boost sales after it was banned by my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 MTV. I still remember tuning into Rage (Aussie music video show) one Saturday morning and being completely captivated by what I was watching. The video featured Cher in one of her most iconic outfits (one Aussie commentator described the look as “a bag of bones in a slingshot”), parading around the USS Missouri, cheered on by hundreds of members of the US Navy. 

The song was a massive hit in Australia, topping the charts for three months and helping the album to move over half a million copies Down Under alone. As great as it all was, though, there is plenty more to Heart Of Stone than that song and that video. Another big hit was the country tinged “Just Like Jesse James” that Cher clearly reveled in singing, and although it’s very “wordy,” it recalls the days when Cher had great success in recording songs that told a story like “Half-Breed,” “Dark Lady,” and “Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves.” 

The album’s title track was also a sizable hit and it remains one Cher’s finest moments to date.  The lyrics are a tad confusing because it’s half social commentary and half autobiographical, but it’s a great soulful pop song. To counter the hit-heavy first half, the disc features some great rhythmic tracks that are all pretty decent fillers and a nice change from the big productions like the ferocious “Emotional Fire” and the epic “Love On A Rooftop.” Chill-out stuff like “Starting Over” and “Kiss To Kiss” both offer a chance to hear Cher singing in a lower key and letting the melodies do their job. 

“All Because Of You” is a somber song of longing for someone who isn’t around anymore and Cher really gives a wonderful delivery here. Another gem on the record is the rocker “You Wouldn’t Know Love” (a Warren/Bolton track) that keeps the momentum running superbly.  My only real gripe with this record is the decision to stick “After All” onto the end of it, which kind of kills off the great mood set by the previous three songs. The song is a duet with Peter Cetera and was, of course, the love theme from the film Chances Are, and although both singers gave a nice performance, it just doesn’t feel right. 

But that it is a minor gripe, and nothing can really take away from the fact that Heart Of Stone (Cher’s twentieth studio LP) is still a great album that finds her at the top of her game and that triggered another massive wave of success for one of pop’s greatest chameleons.

Rating: A-

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© 2011 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen, and is used for informational purposes only.