In a career spanning four decades of countless of toy-boys and well over 20 studio albums, Cher is no stranger to hit-proof albums. Following the commercial coop of bagging the biggest-selling album and single of her entire career, she hit the road, and, well, we all know how long that takes her. So it should come as no surprise that her follow-up, Living Proof, was not released for another 3 years. Cher seemingly appeared out of nowhere on the British music TV show TOTP doing her classic hip-to-hip dance endurance moves and syncing for her life to her new single The Music's No Good Without You, a monotone auto-tune affair, with expressive verses and an emotional soliloquy that she wrote herself. I wasn't completely sold. That is, until I saw her music video, which was a tribute to Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and I felt better: Cher was down with the kids after all. The single went straight in at #8 in the UK charts and was never to be heard since. America held its breath for another 5 months before they got exactly the same album, but with its best song chopped off to reward their patience.
Above: Cher dreads to think what life without wigs would be like.
I do like Living Proof. The vocoder hic-ups and trembles of Real Love bounce along in a Kylie sort of way (does it use the same piano riff as Janet's All For You?). She sings her lungs off, or maybe that should be nose off, on the emphatic anthem Song For The Lonely, which has a great remix package and video. The plaintive ballad You take It All is mesmerizing and emotional to say the least (the middle eight is heroic). The chunky grooves on Alive Again soar higher than her hair (it was a low-key German single)
Above: From Russia with photoshop.
The ballsy kitchen-sink Hi-NRG When The Money's Gone is just daft fun, but she does not sing the lyric as it's written in the inlay ("all it ever was" perhaps to much for a diva to sing about her career in the past tense?). On a lighter note, Love Is A Lonely Place Without You is more auto-tuned melancholia, like a more tranquil On A Night Like This. Different Kind of Love Song is pretty identical to what's on offer here in a general sense, but I do like the title lyric moments, and the chorus is pretty easy on the ears (a well chosen single, and the Will & Grace 'dancing fairies' holler secures it's place in Cher history).
Above: "If that dancing try-hard tranny Gaga steals one of my 80s looks again I'm gonna set Buster onto her."
I was on the whole very happy with Living Proof (I used to listen to it and the Britney album all the time), but she wasn't bringing anything new, the best track was a European bonus song, and I don't think even she could remember how some of these songs go, probably the day after she recorded them. Rain, Rain is a bit dismal, but could be this album's The Power, and the song she wanted her fans to went their pants over, the Amber cover Love One Another doesn't quite have the flashy thrills of the Dutch dance dealer's video edit.
This will hopefully be the last dance album from Cher of this kind: the album proves there was little for her left to do in this genre. The production is more expensive, and whilst I adore overproduced dance music, the hastily assembled charm of Believe is now gone. The songs themselves are less anthemic, less believable, and less Cher. There's no exotica heavy-breathing of The Poweror sumptuous fast-lane craziness of Taxi Taxi. What the album does have is a coherent and plaintive elegance. The pathos chills of the devastating You Take It All rank as an unforgettable career high, with its lingering backing vocals that flow beautifully with Cher's own quaking gusto, and yet is a European-only track, Love Is A Lonely Place Without You is Metro at their most dependable, Song For The Lonely is the would-be killer anthem, but was a US-only single and UK promo was cut short altogather despite some catchy remixes via the tarty appeal of Almighty, the similarly themed A Different Kind of Love Song requires some repeated listening to get over how generic it is (although it's more than catchy one it works its magic on you), Real Love might sound like a robot with bulimia, but is an unexpected delight along the lines of Janet'sAll For You meets Kylie's Love At First Sight (or perhaps Britney's Anticipating). However, it lacks songs that leap out with the same freshness and unthinking vigour as All Or Nothing with its jittery guitars, the sensual aroma of Love Is The Groove, the intoxicating Taxi Taxi, the bruised-and-rouged club remix of We All Sleep Alone, and of course there is nothing that comes close to the song Believe itself. It's not a failure by any means, and I do genuinely rate it hightly, but this is now time to move on and get something new from Cher. The world awaits.