Volume 94, Issue 103
Wednesday, April 4, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
When a bunch of bungling burglars were caught red-handed during the 1972 Watergate break-in, one thing was for sure they were definitely not the "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" Cher was singing about on her rollicking album Half Breed.
By modern standards, Half Breed (a title which refers to Cher's mixed heritage and bears witness to a complete lack of political correctness in the 1970s) is an odd album. Sandwiched between the Woodstock era and the rise of disco, the album seems to blend the qualities of both nicely. Incidentally, it also sounds like it could easily become a rock opera.
At any rate, Half Breed exhibits a folk-tinged mysticism familiar to most fans of the era, especially on tracks like "Dark Lady" and "Carousel Man," where Cher's voice is complemented by bells, horns and other rhythmic devices.
But one must not ignore the disco sensibilities of Half Breed. The title track and "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" are both perfect examples of pre-disco, that era of musical possibility which immediately preceded the onslaught of disco and the accompanying polyester. The catchy beats, expansive openings and diva-esque vocals compelled people everywhere to get down and groove.
Yet, like most of Cher's albums, there is always a place for ballads and Cher's deep, throaty, sorrowful voice. She is particularly strong on Leon Russell's "Song For You," which begins with the dramatics of an orchestral crescendo, but quickly makes room for Cher, whose delivery of the song is brazen and dynamic.
Two additional tracks act as an added bonus on the compact disc re-release of Half Breed. "Train of Thought" speaks directly to Cher's disco sensibilities, while "The Way of Love" answers to her melodic side and even adds a touch of the 1950s to the album.
When it was first released, Half Breed was an important album for Cher and her music career. Although at the time she was still married to Sonny Bono, this album allowed Cher to test her own strengths and weaknesses.
That same group of Cher fans, who have developed a quasi-religious dedication to Cher over the years despite her numerous misgivings (think "If I Could Turn Back Time") are the same bunch of folks that should leave "Believe" alone and spend more time getting to know Half Breed.
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