Secondhand Vinyl Album
Original Release Date: 1971 Kapp Records
My Rating: (3 Stars)
The Way Of Love
Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves
He’ll Never Know
Fire & Rain
When You Find Out Where You’re Goin’ Let Me Know
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
I Hate To Sleep Alone
I’m In The Middle
Touch And Go
One Honest Man
To begin, I would first like to address that I’m aware that the album entitled, “Cher,” pictured above is also known by the name, “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.” Apparently, this record was originally released simply as, “Cher.” However, eventually it was re-released under an alternative name. Of course, this was only after the song, “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves,” received massive attention as Cher’s first solo number one hit. I decided to review this album under its’ original title, considering the copy I own was obviously pressed before the renaming. This all being stated, I can certainly understand why Kapp Records eventually decided to feature the song, “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves,” as the title track of Cher’s album.
Apparently, much like the rest of the United States during November 1971, this blogger admits to having a total addiction to this song. It's without a doubt my favorite piece on the album. One can only describe it as being that tune on the stereo that ends and you immediately press the repeat button. The final lyric states, “But every night all the men would come around, And lay their money down,” and this blogger thinks, “Again!” before Cher has finished uttering her last note. If not for the fact that I only possess this song on vinyl, I could realistically imagine myself listening to it about forty times in a row. However, that’s a lot of maneuvering a turntable arm, especially considering this gem of a story is literally shy of three minutes long. I refer to, “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves,” as a, "story," because that’s exactly what it is. While hearing the lyrics of this song, I envision the tale of a beautifully exotic bohemian girl’s scandal being revealed by the rich and sultry voice of Cher, yet another beautiful exotic bohemian girl. Not only does this song provide a narrative full of provocative plot lines, (underage sex and unplanned pregnancy), it also possesses background music by accomplished studio musicians, The Wrecking Crew. In order to substantiate these musicians' skill level I'll mention that this group eventually became known as record producer, Phil Spector’s, house band.
Unfortunately, it seems The Wrecking Crew was not available to play on every song of the album, “Cher,” which brings me to my biggest criticism of this record. Despite the fact that songs like, “He’ll Never Know,” and, “I’m In The Middle,” are solid examples of the talent Cher had already mastered over her vocal instrument, this blogger couldn’t get rid of the feeling that she was often singing along to elevator music. In short, most of the instrumental portions of this album are not worthy of a voice as unique and expressive as Cher’s. During these songs a listener begins to feel like they’re sitting at a karaoke bar only to suddenly be shocked back to life by the unexpected utterances of a vocalist who has far surpassed her surroundings. The best example of this can be found during, “When You Find Out Where You’re Goin’ Let Me Know.” Between this song’s cheesy jazz flute solos and poor lyrics, this listener found herself cringing at the sinful waste of Cher’s talent.
However the album, “Cher,” does possess several promising moments as well. Despite the fact that I’ve never been partial to the sound of the flute, the song, “One Honest Man,” nicely features the passionate emotion Cher so often artfully conveys. During this song she pleads with a listener, “Why can’t I find me one honest man?!” It’s this blogger's opinion that through these simple lyrics Cher’s voice embodies enough feelings of weariness, bewilderment, and plain anger to muster feelings of empathy from any female listener. I found myself singing along and nodding, “Yeah, why can’t I find me one honest man?!” However, keep in mind that Cher was still married to Sonny at the time she released this song, therefore her legitimate feelings on the matter are rather questionable. Of course, we all know that relationship ended in divorce. Yet, not being privy to their private matters, one can only guess that either Cher really believed in the lyrics of, “One Honest Man,” or she’s one hell of an actress. (A fact that's actually been proven true)
Additional highlights on this album include Cher’s version of James Taylor’s song, “Fire & Rain.” During her rendition, this otherwise, “folksy,” song gets a rather, "amped up," makeover merely from Cher’s husky voice. Likewise, it’s this same voice featured in the song, “Touch and Go,” that hints at the future power diva Cher would ultimately transform into. Of course, I specifically use the word, “hint,” because that’s all the album, “Cher,” is really able to achieve. Considering the overall length of this record is only about a half hour it’s not possible for a listener to form a solid image of who the artist Cher would become. However, this blogger loves the idea of those she came from. That’s right, play it again, “They’d call us Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves…”
“Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWeezUxIzaE