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Black Rose - 1980 Black Rose



ARTIST: Black Rose
ALBUM: Black Rose
LABEL: Casablanca
SERIAL: NBLP 7234
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2004, DV More, CD DV 6785

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Cher - vocals * Les Dudek - guitars, backing vocals * Gary Ferguson - drums * Michael Finnigan - keyboards, backing vocals * Warren Ham - backing vocals * Ron 'Rocket' Ritchotte - guitars, backing vocals * Trey Thompson - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Never Should've Started * 02 Julie * 03 Take It From The Boys * 04 We All Fly Home * 05 88 Degrees * 06 You Know It * 07 Young And Pretty * 08 Fast Company


Background
The name of Cher should be familiar to all and sundry. An Oscar winning actress and multi-platinum recording artist she has achieved world wide success with hits such as 'I Found Someone' and 'If I Could Turn Back Time'. Towards the tail end of the 1990's she has even made the painful (to these ears anyway) transition from AOR goddess, to pop diva(!). I've always considered that she has a great rock voice, so it's therefore disappointing to see her squander her talent, in her relentless pursuit of chart success (as has Michael Bolton). But then I'm not a record company executive so what would I know? Back in 1980 however, she was probably better known for being one-half of 60's pop duo Sonny and Cher. She was also used to attracting headlines on the strength of her 'complicated' personal life rather than on any artistic merit. Black Rose was a project spawned out of Cher's dalliance with then main-squeeze, guitarist Les Dudek. As time has elapsed it has become a forgotten album no doubt because of Cher's subsequent massive commercial success in the late 1980's. The album received a lukewarm reception from the press on it's original release - some music critics even doubting her conviction as rock singer. Witness this quote from 'People' magazine. 'Cher's quivering over-mannered vocals on this lp need all the help they can get and more than she deserves'. If you do come across this in the bargain bins, don't be dissuaded - one should never judge an album by it's (tacky) cover. After all, any record which features the above talents, together with David Paich and Steve Porcaro of Toto, can't be that bad.


The Songs
Things get off to a promising start with Messrs Paich and Porcaro weaving their magic on 'Never Should've Started'. 'Julie' is a gutsy rocker characterized by Cher's raucous vocals, Les Dudek's and Ron Ritchotte's chunky guitar, and embellished by some great keyboard pyrotechnics. 'Take It From The Boys' is even better, featuring some frenzied fretwork from Les Dudek and a chorus to die for - why this never graced the upper reaches of the Billboard chart is beyond me. The opening cut on side 2 '88 degrees' has some soulful vocals, raw bluesy guitar and a stripped down quality to it - an interesting approach sadly not revisited on her later albums. The band then move up several gears for the hard rockin' 'You Know It' , only to come to a grinding halt on the limp-wristed 'Young And Pretty' - definitely the album's low point. Fortunately this is but a temporary oversight and they pick up the thread again with 'Fast Company' highlighted by it's fluid guitar work and lush harmonies.


In Summary
Unfortunately the band's short-lived career ended ignominiously with Cher having a very public spat with Elton John over his refusal to include them as support on his tour, and they disbanded shortly afterwards. Overall a good album worthy of investigation - if only to hear Cher perform AOR with a tougher edge than her later bombastic (and slightly clinical) releases.


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Comments
#1 | Eric on June 05 2008 02:26:54
I didn't know anything about Black Rose until I read a tiny article in 'Time' magazine in very early 1981 in a doctors office of all places. There was a photo of Cher in a live setting in classic 1980 new wave gear, so my guess is they did some live shows? Hmmmm....hmm!
#2 | richardb on June 06 2008 11:31:58
Thanks for the info Dave. May have to check these out..

Richard B
#3 | super80boy on December 25 2013 00:48:06
Bypass the cheesy cheap looking album front jacket artwork, turn it over to see some serious looking rock musicians and dive into a likable melodic rock AOR one off project album with Cher doing her signature crooning! Well done.
#4 | gdazegod on December 25 2013 01:23:32
This gets a Rock Candy reissue in the new year.
 
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