Sonny & Cher

Sonny & Cher Live

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"And now Ladies and Gentlemen, the West Side Room proudly presents Sonny & Cher" -- and at 45-and-a-half minutes for a vinyl album, this is indeed a generous portion of Sonny & Cher in concert. Produced by Denis Pregnolato, who would come back and record the 1973 double LP Sonny & Cher Live in Las Vegas, Vol. 2, a pretty much different band runs through a bunch of mostly cover songs. Opening with a Vegas version of "What Now My Love," what was schlock could now be a perfectly haunting closing tune for a movie on the famous couple. There are three of their Top Ten hits here, including a terrific version of "The Beat Goes On," which is sultry, slick, hip, and energetic. It slinks through the show band performance with snarling guitars and frosty horns. You could play this version on a hip FM station or college radio program and it would rock. Which is the underlying theme of this popular duo, that they could play both sides of the fence -- be cool as well as being able to play to a middle of the road crowd. The band sounds like a coiled spring ready to pounce, and Cher shows why she is the diva/icon that she is. As she takes over "The Beat Goes On," Sonny reminds her that this was a Sonny & Cher song. She quickly replies: "Was." Great theater. After the expected mother-in-law jokes, there is a good version of "Once in a Lifetime" followed by a really insightful medley of Spiral Starecase's "More Today Than Yesterday" merging into the Beatles' "Gotta Get You Into My Life." Those two songs are just perfect for this pair, and they go together well. "Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You)" suffers a bit from the wry humor at the beginning of the tune, but the promise of Cher's soulful voice is fulfilled during the rest of the performance and on a wonderful "Danny Boy," which starts off side two. Sonny gets to re-create his Top Ten hit "Laugh at Me," a song so cool that Mott the Hoople covered it, but it's his version of George Harrison's "Something" which works better on this outing. Bono makes note of the fact that the Beatles have universal appeal as they include "Hey Jude" in the set, the three songs from the Fab Four matching the amount of Sonny & Cher hits included on this set, three each. The closing number is the only tune which gets duplicated on the double live LP which would follow two years later: "I Got You Babe," of course. The back cover claims it is Dean Parker and Dave Hungate on guitars, but that may be a misprint -- "Parker" is probably Dean Parks, who appears on Sonny & Cher Live in Las Vegas, Vol. 2. There's no denying these two have charm, and if you can get through the glitz, there's some real substance here.

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