Sonny & Cher

Baby Don't Go

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"Baby Don't Go" was first released as a single in 1964 on Reprise Records but didn't hit until after "I Got You Babe" went to number one on Atlantic Records in the summer of 1965. This was essentially Sonny & Cher's second hit record, charting higher than Sonny Bono's "Laugh at Me" and competing with that tune in September of 1965. But what the delayed reaction spawned was an interesting marketing ploy by the powers that be at Reprise, a compilation by Sonny & Cher and their friends. Baby Don't Go could be considered an inadvertent precursor to the couple's eventual TV programs -- a variety show on disc. Problem is, Reprise A&R should've put a little more elbow grease into the project. It is doubtful Sonny Bono hand-picked the Lettermen to be on this compilation, and no matter how good they are, tunes like "When," "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring," and "Two Hearts" destroy the momentum on what is a unique and important collection of music. The Ceasar and Cleo songs -- probably licensed performances originally released on Vault in 1963 -- are both historic and excellent. Bono's smart rearrangement of "Love Is Strange" works, while their renditions of "Do You Wanna Dance" and "Let the Good Times Roll" are lots of fun. Bill Medley, on the other hand, belongs with the Lettermen...on another compilation. His three tunes, "I Surrender," "Leavin' Town," and "Wo Yeah" don't have the sparkle that even the instrumental credited to Sonny & Cher contains. "Leavin' Town" isn't too bad, it's just that it drifts more toward the blues when this album is overflowing with pop delights. The Blendells' very minor hit, "La La La La La," is an absolute delight and fits in perfectly with what Sonny & Cher were doing at the time. The lone instrumental track, "Walkin' the Quetzal," must've been the flip side of "Baby Don't Go," Sonny emulating Phil Spector by putting something that would be ignored on the back side in order to focus attention on the hit. What happens with this album is that the listener will keep going back to the Ceasar and Cleo/Sonny & Cher stuff. Their remake of Mickey & Sylvia's 1957 hit, "Love Is Strange," finds itself both faithful to the original and brimming with the sound that became the pair's trademark. The liner notes on the vinyl album's jacket are a waste, and that's a shame, for Baby Don't Go is mostly fun to listen to and historically important.

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