When Cherilyn Sarkasian reinvented herself as the more photogenic half of '60s pop duo Sonny & Cher, no one could guess it would be merely the first step in an ongoing artistic redefinition that would continue for decades. After the smash success of Sonny & Cher's '60s recordings and '70s TV show, the pair split. Cher continued to score pop hits on her own, such as "Half Breed" and "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" in the '70s, before switching into disco mode for "Take Me Home." In the '80s, she became an acclaimed actress, with lead roles in such well received films as MASK, MERMAIDS, and MOONSTRUCK (the latter earning her an Oscar). Incredibly, she followed this by returning to the pop charts in the late '80s with "If I Could Turn Back Time" and becoming a Madonna-like dance-pop diva in the late '90s with the megahit "Believe."
DISC 1 for The Very Best Of Cher (CD) Album
2 If I Could Turn Back Time
3 Heart Of Stone
4 Just Like Jesse James
5 Save Up All Your Tears
6 After All (Love Theme From Chances Are) -- duet with Peter Cetera
21 unforgettable Cher songs on one disc spotlighting Sonny & Cher along with her recent hits. slipcase. Warner/Geffen. 2003.
Given a five-decade career that''s been one long series of critical write-offs and subsequent comeback triumphs, it''s tempting to argue that the natural elements are actually earth, wind, fire, water--and Cher. Anchored by her 1998 international mega-success "Believe" (the song that made Cher the oldest woman to score a chart topper) and its equally club-savvy contemporary collaborations with producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawlings, "Song for the Lonely" and "A Different Kind of Love Song," this 21-track anthology is indeed the first to contain all her No. 1 hits, stretching back to her epochal 1965 duet with Sonny Bono on the faux-Dylan "I Got You Babe." And if it shortchanges her Phil Spector-rooted origins and a true perspective on her ''60s and ''70s career (though kitsch classic chart toppers "Dark Lady," "Half-Breed," and "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" are all here) to focus on her string of ''80s and ''90s pop successes in service of writers like Diane Warren ("If I Could Turn Back Time") and Desmond Child ("Just Like Jesse James"), it''s good to remember that, according to the pop soothsayers, none of them were even supposed to happen, let alone make her an icon for a whole new generation. It''s a tribute to sheer, fashion-defying willpower--and as unlikely an argument for the notion of "the singer, not the song" as one is likely to find. --Jerry McCulley
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