Tuesday, 17 November 2020

CHER: Love Hurts


(#429: 29 June 1991, 6 weeks)


Track listing: Save Up All Your Tears/Love Hurts/Love And Understanding/Fires Of Eden/I’ll Never Stop Loving You/One Small Step/A World Without Heroes/Could’ve Been You/When Love Calls Your Name/When Lovers Become Strangers/Who You Gonna Believe/The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)


(Author’s Note: “The Shoop Shoop Song” only appears as an uncredited bonus track on the European edition of this album.)


Cher has a lot in common with Kylie Minogue. She has earned the reputation of one of pop’s great female survivors, someone who has come through an awful lot, or a lot of awfulness, and somehow has managed to emerge triumphant, defeating unfortunate previous affairs, illness and momentary career decline. Both are actresses as well as singers, and their music is principally purchased and identified with by women, though both also command a huge gay following. We evidently like our survivors.


Taking this context into account, it is easy to gauge the attraction of Love Hurts, the third album released by Cher following her return to music in the late eighties. At the time she was romantically involved with Bon Jovi’s then lead guitarist Richie Sambora, so an overall stadium rock mood was inevitable. Most of the record’s songs deal with love foiled, betrayed and collapsed, and examine how the singer ends up winning anyway.


It is not my musical world, but one can instantly picture how attractively anthemic this music must have seemed to the newly-liberated former inhabitants of Valium Court. “Love And Understanding” and “Fires Of Eden” are politely euphoric fist-pumpers in which their audience can believe and with which they can empathise. Cher first recorded “Love Hurts” as a straight ballad on her 1975 album Stages, but sixteen years and many troublesome personal experiences later, her 1991 reading is a remarkable and quite spellbinding soliloquy, albeit buried to some extent by early nineties production bombast.


“I’ll Never Stop Loving You” is a lighter-waving ballad written in part by David Cassidy, and one can easily imagine him singing it. “One Small Step,” co-written by fellow sixties endurer Barry Mann, has the singer trading lines with Mr Mister’s Richard Page. The album then hits the doldrums somewhat – the Kiss cover (“A World Without Heroes”) never really takes off – but with the aid of Diane Warren and others, Cher characteristically rallies round and takes us satisfactorily home with the cannily-constructed night-to-day transition of “When Lovers Become Strangers” and a predictably Bon Jovi-esque singalong finale in “Who You Gonna Believe.”


U.S. editions of this album omitted “The Shoop Shoop Song,” and there it was confined to the soundtrack album of its parent film, Mermaids. In Britain, however, it was a big number one single – the first Cher had had here since “I Got You Babe” – and its addition was probably the principal reason why the album went triple platinum here. However, I think it was best confined to the movie; the delivery of what should essentially be a lighthearted song is far too stentorian, as though our heads were being stamped with the obligation to remember “the sixties,” and it is irritatingly out of keeping with the mood carefully built up across the album as a whole. But, in 1991’s mainstream, who cared – the audience sang along to their hairbrushes, and it was all a good night out and a jolly, almost cathartic experience.