Sunday, 30 December 2012

Cher - With Love (1967)

US #47

Consistently considered Cher's strongest 60s set, With Love immediately benefits from her continually improving vocals, which are now richer with more agility and power. We're still not gliding at the same heights as on her 70s vintage peak, but it's still noticeable.

Morphing into a man well before Chaz, Cher doesn't bother to adapt the gender of You Better Sit Down Kids (US #9, CAN #7) of which Sonny had recorded first. It's the most famous Cher song here. It would be 4 years before she would grace the US top 10 again.

Failing to unlock the charts, Behind The Door (US #97, CAN #74) slams shut the fey pop she started out with in favour of the theatrical leanings of her most popular work from the following decade. One of the album's biggest growers. Initially I hated it, but I love the sense of foreboding drama that's almost too contrived to take seriously. 

Taken from the soundtrack to the film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (sadly not a Cher pun), I Will Wait For You is a familiar whimsical and flighty sounding ballad with a serene string section stretching things out. Cher sings really well on it, without being drowned out or trying to hard to sing above it all.

The commercially infertile Mama (When My Dollies Have Babies) (US #124, CAN #45) is a tad meandering for my taste. The po-faced drama of the chorus is completely undermined by the fact that she is singing about her dollies having a babies. I'd say it's actually dreadful, but merely interesting for the fact that it seemed controversial for its time (and I do love this theme of Cher herself, or with Sonny, taking the American facade apart whether on purpose or not - no one was listening anyway).

The predictable Dylan cover The Time's They Are A-Changing seems like an ironic admission as to why her record sales were slowing down. My least favourite of her Dylan setlist (I'm highly surprised they were never grouped together for one separate project, which may have just sent the man himself over the edge).

But I Can't Love You More safely covers familiar ground and could easily slot into any of her previous LPs. Similarly, Look At Me is light on the ears for the same reasons (but is much better).

The show number Sing For Your Supper signifies the direction her career would soon take (songs such as this would be common place on her TV shows). On this evidence, songs such as this explain her nimble frame. 

Hello, Hey Joe (US #94), you wanna give it a go? It's a slow-burning bluesy number that gets to grips with yet more gun-related solutions. Cher's hollering with no specific aim, but thankfully avoids the rabid frothing at the mouth style she'd growl with on some of her 80s material. It understandably wasn't a hit, but does deserve attention.

There But For Fortune flirts with the chiming motif of her early records, but has a plaintive quality that's really lovely. It's also nice to hear some of the gravel-like textures to her voice alongside the smoother form being showcased. One of the highlights here.

Sadly record buyers treated With Love with indifference, which is a crying shame. The vocal improvement is a big draw for me, but it's not as songful as her debut even if it's a more accomplished record overall.

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