Some artists music has a timeless tone. Whether you were born when they originally made the music or are listening to it years later, there is a hint of nostalgia that follows their albums. It’s easy to say that one of those artists is Sonny and Cher.
I have been going through my vinyl collection to organize it and revisit old favorites that I haven’t listened to in years. While I was cleaning records the other night, I came across The Wondrous World of Sonny and Cher. This album is the iconic duo’s second, right after Look At Us, which contained the hit single “I Got You Babe.”
Although this album was not as popular or successful as their previous, it still contained the top twenty hits “But You’re Mine” and “What Now My Love.” The album also takes a deep dive into the groove that Sonny and Cher moved too. Even in the liner notes Sonny and Cher Write:
In our first album we introduced our family to you …on this album we thought it would be nice if we got to be friends personally.
The album opens with the Gershwin tune, “Summertime.” This is not a song you would expect on a 1960’s pop album from Sonny and Cher, yet they made it their own. Cher’s vocals are very jazzy and I would love to lift them off this recording and set them to a piano or jazz quartet.
Unlike some of their previous recordings, Sonny had his own verse in nearly every song on this album. He often gets slack for his perceived lack of vocal talent, but he carried “Summertime” and all the other tunes as well. The same can be said for “I’m Leaving it Up to You” and “Set Me Free.”
Side 2 opens with “What Now My Love.” This is one of my favorite songs, but I usually fancy the more ballad-esque version. Their version of this classic tune was the only version that reached the top twenty in the U.S. and U.K. Sonny and Cher made this song their own by giving it a 1960’s pop twist while leaving the ballad elements behind. I would have loved to hear them do a slow down version of this song, like they did with “I Got You Babe” for the movie Good Times.
The shining moments on this album were Sonny and Cher’s solo pieces. Sonny sang “Laugh at Me,” which he also wrote, while Cher sang Harry Belafonte’s “Turn Around.” Sonny’s “Laugh at Me” is an anthem of self acceptance, basically saying that normal doesn’t exist. Sonny is telling people to do what you want and express yourself. In the end, you have just as much right to be yourself as they do to criticize.
This issue hit Sonny and Cher hard. Beyond their fame, they were still kicked out of hotels and restaurants just because of the way they looked. I never knew long hair and fur vests could be so rebellious.
Then there are Cher’s haunting vocals on “Turn Around.” This is a gem of her early career that gets overlooked. It is a heavy Phil Spector inspired ballad, that I think could have been a hit.
In the end, what I take away from this album is Sonny’s vocals. Although we know him as always being the butt of the joke and second when it comes to Cher’s vocals, he really is underestimated in what he can do. I’m not saying he’s Pavarotti, but he shouldn’t be tossed under the table. Read my article over his only solo album here.
Sonny and Cher will always have that special nostalgia about them. No matter where you are, or what song you hear them singing, it reminds you of something. From memories of watching the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour to having just pure joy when you hear their voices, their music is timeless and affects every age. They truly created a wondrous world that has stood the test of time.
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