Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cher - I'd Rather Believe In You (1976)

After Stars fizzled out on the charts seemingly without anyone really noticing, I'd Rather Believe In You offered a subtle compromise. She still got to exert her rock ambitions somewhat, but some old-school Cher numbers were thrown in the mix too.  Recorded whilst pregnant with Elijah, the album did not chart anywhere despite being badly promoted.

Above: Cher can't say no to a fag.
The title track ranks as one of the best songs she ever recorded, but the rest of the material opts for quaint and theatrical pleasures over the plaintive rawness here. The way she hollers "yeah, OH YEAH" is positively heroic. That it's an anomaly here is is not to say that it's a poor album (it's still a very good one), just that it's following the very best thing Cher has ever produced. 

The album's sole single Long Distance Love Affair is a solid opener, re-activating the singer's gritty signature grimacing lyrics, presumably attempting to re-establish her star image. The Rn'B fling I Know (You Don't Love Me) is a fun stumbling, jazzy affair also built on a solid electronic folk foundation. Cher yo-yo's between octaves on the tender Silver Wings & Golden Rings, a MOR middle of the week tale of meeting lonely companions at the bar. It's a sing-along ballad more familiar to her audience. 

The languid Flash Back is a slow-burning Dark Lady-esque dramatic tale, and would have been a great choice for single number 3 from that album, where the passion burns like a cigarette. Dodging disco is a poor precaution to take when covering Knock On Wood, but does boast a standard pop appeal, rather like her version of Rescue Me from 1974's Dark Lady. It's certainly not lighting any fuse towards the disco direction of Take Me Home, but it does illustrate Cher's knack for capturing whatever sound is happening without losing the natural essence of Cher. The guitar grind isn't dislikable, and the confrontational tug-and-pull energy of the sensual verses, grit of the bridges and angst-filled chorus sits well with her. 

An ambush of TV-Cher sensations, the rhythmic and alert show-tune It's A Crying Shame is a sheer joy, with a lot of poof and sparkle to cushion the album in fine form. The alluring Early Morning Strangers makes something meaningful out of meaningless relationships. She soars on the country-kissed Spring, another 3rd person narrative - the lyrics are beautiful and baffling in equal measure. Borrowed Time is slightly apt given the nature of the LP, but is a radiant gem unleashed right at the end.

A radiant mixture of vibrant uptempo numbers, a gorgeous title track, and flashes of her theatrical flair ensure that I'd Rather Believe In You is a very solid album, but the only issue is that it's following up the best album of her career. Cher doesn't put a foot wrong, and there is no filler. Not to be overlooked.

No comments: