The Very Best of Cher [Warner Bros #1]

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Since it's a cross-licensed, 21-track collection, it stands to reason that Warner Strategic Marketing's 2003 The Very Best of Cher is finally the Cher collection that gets it right, presenting a fully rounded portrait of her long, winding, multi-label career. It's not, but it's closer than any previous collection, eclipsing Hip-O's 2001 The Ultimate Collection by containing hits from every aspect of her career, from Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" to her 1999 comeback, "Believe" and beyond to the new, Rodney Jerkins-produced "A Different Kind of Love Song" (yes, it does feature heavy vocoder work). Where other collections emphasized her '70s hits, this focuses on the Geffen work, which may be appropriate since they rarely appeared on hits compilations before this, along with the late-'90s comeback on Warner. This is all pushed toward the front, taking up the first 11 songs, which, frankly, is infuriating sequencing, especially since it bounces between the Geffen album rock and the post-house, neo-disco of the Warner years. Also, there is simply too much Warner material, given that apart from "Believe" it was entirely too generic and also not big hits. They nearly knock the collection off track by providing a dead stretch in the middle of the record before it regains momentum with 1979's "Take Me Home" and then more or less works its way back to her beginning. This is a bewildering choice in sequencing, and it hurts the general listenablity of the record; even if all periods are represented and all the big hits are here, the lack of logic leads to a herky-jerky sequencing that is tiring on the ear. That said, this does have all the big hits -- "Believe," "If I Could Turn Back Time," "Just Like Jesse James," "After All," "I Found Someone," "The Shoop Shoop Song," "All I Really Want to Do," "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," "Half-Breed," "Gypsies Tramps & Thieves," among them. And even if the presentation leaves a lot to be desired, it's still nice to have all these in one place.

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