Cher

Gold

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2005's Gold is basically an expanded version of 2003's The Very Best of Cher, running to 32 tracks instead of 21. It retails for about the same price, and unless you don't want the extra 11 songs, supplants that album as the best career-spanning collection on the market. And what a career she had. Starting in the mid-'60s with the girl group-styled pop of Sonny & Cher and her solo folk-rock work all the way through to the dance-pop sensation of 1999's "Believe," she has never stayed put for long and that makes for a very interesting collection. The first disc collects songs recorded with Sonny, her early folk-rock hit "All I Really Want to Do," and her solo work from the '70s, including an extended version of her 1979 disco hit "Take Me Home." The second disc combines her '80s rock babe persona and her dance diva work at the end of the century, and includes remixed versions of "Heart of Stone" and "One by One." Both discs are solid listens, though the second disc does rely a bit much on her work for Warner Bros., which is simply not as distinctive as the rest. As long as complaints are being lodged, it would have been nice to have photos in the booklet from all through her career instead of just a handful from her recent diva/mannequin phase. The lack of any real rarities or collector's items makes the disc a little dull for hardcore Cher fanatics too. Still, this is a disc that will certainly please the fans who want a sampling of her career and don't really want rarities or surprises.

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