Cher's vocals are fully developed and threaten all sorts of emotional upheaval. It has been argued that her voice was simply too big for the lead single, the 60s girlband pastiche Rudy, but it remains safely in my top 20 Cher songs of all time if not higher. Her swaggering style suggests the ghastly repercussions of romance and seems to cringe jokingly at her weaknesses to the man or lesbian called Rudy (it's probably her cleaning lady). Personally, I surrender all resistance when Cher is on form this good: the agony of being infatuated never sounded so painfully exhilirating. Its teeth-shattering production is an obvious nod to Phil Spector, but those guitars splinter and sting like lightning.
The fervently mellow Games is lovelorn and abandoned - Cher sings into the night. This could be a Pointer Sisters ballad with its sensual angst and melodic stencil. Whatever she is gargling whilst lamenting 'whatever it is it is' must be strong stuff: she sings so deep it is hard not to wonder if she is deep-throating the microphone or else a chainsaw. 'Don't you play them with me' is her final swipe.
Once a club singer, always a club singer. Cher can't help but sing from one side of her mouth at all times, but the smouldering hip-popping I Paralyze is pure Elvis. Its country-tinged grind is so visceral it's a wonder her vocal chords aren't sharp enough to shred timber. The song is notable for its gasping conviction and that it was produced by John Farrar and co-written by himself and Steve Kipner (Olvia Newton-John's Physical) - 'leave the modesty to someone else' abandons all responsibility. There is a throat-slitting gasp during the chorus. when cher quips 'you're as real as a dollar bill' her innate pronounciation manages to make the couplet rhyme. A fine showcase for her spine-snapping prowless.
The almost gospel-sounding pop song Walk With Me beams with swooning pride. I would love to hear Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud sing a song this good. The arm-swaying chorus is as nail-hammering as it is absolute bliss. Her steak-chewing vocal is at it's busiest and demanding.
Below: body-shy Cher mixes it up with her love for yoga dominating much of her early 80s photoshoots.Her torch ballad crusade is not over as When The Love Is Gone is hands down amongst her top ten ballads of all time. Written by Desmond Child, it is hard to imagine some of the generic material he would subsequently submit. Her glass-cut vocal is one her clearest, and those husky tones give her grimacing credibility and a force beyond the boundaries of any known gender. Her sunset vocals are as incredulous as ever - her joy always cancels out the pathos, and 'there is a strength one gets when going it alone' let's one down easy.
Below: her career was left out to dry as were here clothes presumably - shot taken in 1980.The pop-flavoured rockabilly-esque Say What's On Your Mind has vocal bite but it is biding time - good-natured filler but loose-wrist finger-snapping and toe-tapping pub rock is not my idea of paralyzing glamour. 'I may not be sober' is her well thought out defence for her whisky-led loose tongue (but does not explain her tell-tale lip licking addiction).
Her cover of The Babys' street-walking Back On The Street Again is the best ABBA-sounding pavement-pounding anthem and possibly the only one. Neon-glowing synths drips like a waterfall and a chugging bassline sweats it out under the spotlight. 'Here I am, I'm back on my feet again' is pretty much Cher's signature appeal. Her vocals thrash her lyrics like a food-blender but with less hesitance.
Below: Cher gamefully pulls back for the full facial.The jittery The Book of Love is worth a million bad album tracks for the throwaway lyric 'hey-ho' inadvertantly being one of the familiar quirks used to impersonate her. The back-and-forth chorus gives decent friction, and Cher refuses to languish as she goofily heckles 'oh stupid cupid' - it isyet another drink-spitting high point in the same song which ought not to be so noteworthy otherwise.
The quiet raindrop vocals of Do I Ever Cross Your Mind are wiped away like oozing tears - Cher sounds uncharacteristically overcome. As closers go, this is up there with the unyeilding pathos of You Take It All and the meditative piano ballad Stars - her cleansing pressence and visionary torch ballads have saved the day once again. When Cher waffles on about 'that melancholy jaded by that time' it is the nearest she has ever came to employing a sort of stream-of-consciousness quality to her lyrics. To know what Cher is truly thinking has always baffled me and I am sure this is part of her inpenetrable mystique. Unlike other drumless ballads, say True Colours for instance, this song is breathtaking but never stark as it hovers as a smooth and smokey groove.
Below: Cher wonders if it is too late to fly to Malawi to buy a straight one.Re-released in 1999, not owning this CD is a crime for any casual or die-hard fans alike. It manages to echo parts of her 60s and 70s trademarks and pass the baton on to her proper 80s comeback. Pre-occupied with a stint on broadway and reading Hollywood movie scripts, the album never became a hit but Cher has rarely sounded so inspirational.
Above: Cher performs for Joan Rivers on The Tonight Show in 1981 - I love Cher simply basking in the spotlight as the male singer serenades her.
There is no plundering second-guessing and 'paralyze' she succeeds with novel nostalgia, sassy country-tinged harmonies, melancholic vapours, feminine chivalry, romantic outbursts, and her rock items boast some of the highest price tags of her 5 decade career. Her vocal swoops are beginning to invite characature impersonations, but her wrestling charms ensure the album is another dramatic and spangling addition to the dark lady's remarkable oeuvre, and Cher's explosive sensuality has rarely been so vibranty on fire.