Walking In Memphis
1995: Warner Music/WEA WEA021 0630-12791-2
Ive never been into the kind of music Cher has performed over the years, but Ive always kind of admired her from a hefty distance she is solid and unique, in the same way that Bette Midler is (and Quentin Crisp was), and theres never any question that she is Cher, no impression that shes striving to be something else or that someone else is attempting to be who she is. Shes frank, unapologetic, plain-stated, and completely impressive.
When I saw this singles cover I said Id buy that, and buy it I did, on the combination of visual impact (decent if imperfect graphic design making use of excellent photography) and the knowledge that it was Cher. The word Memphis just added to the potential payoff, given her roots and range. From what Ive read online since I bought this way back then, I gather a lot of Mark Cohn fans think this is scandalously atrocious, but Im not of them and thus I dont have that opinion. I like it.
What do I like it for that they couldnt appreciate? Probably the way she made it her own song so effortlessly: Im not bound up with the originals context, nor am I a Mark Cohn fan, so what I heard here is something that sounded like Cher was actually singing about herself. Plus which its a nifty recording, structurally, building from simple easygoing piano-and-voice pacing up to strutting/dancing territory, with a plateau of bliss and a moment of gentle epiphany at the summit before returning swiftly to close with the openings simplicity.
The main track itself is concise, no more and no less than it needs to be to tell the story and convey the moods, and it ends with admirable simplicity. Angels Running is a soft contrast, closer to the stuff with which I usually associate Chers recording historypleasant but not personally arresting by a long shot, for me. And the Shut Up & Dance instrumental mix of Walking In Memphis is handy but otherwise inessential.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.