Sometimes I get a craving for a particular artist and overdose on their fabulousness for a matter of days or even weeks. So far this year, I've spent periods wallowing in the heavenly music of Dannii, Bette Midler, Olivia Newton-John and La Toya. At the moment, I am positively aching for 1970s Cher. More specifically, I'm gagging for Cher's unbearably fabulous foray into disco music at the end of the 70s. When it comes to Cher's disco phase, fans and critics alike are quick to praise her 1978 opus "Take Me Home". While I adore that album as much as the next self-respecting homosexual, I am stuck on its poorly received successor - the scorned and largely forgotten masterpiece that is "Prisoner".
After the success of "Take Me Home", Casablanca Records quickly demanded more of the same and Cher was only too happy to oblige. The idea was to take the "Take Me Home" blue print and make "Prisoner" bigger, bolder and even more outrageous. In true Cher style, the album generated controversy even before its release due to the fabulous album cover which depicts a naked Cher, covered in chains. It seems that women's groups were less than impressed - fuck them! Then there was the music itself. There are several cuts that could have easily been recorded during the "Take Me Home" sessions, such is their similarity in sound. However, in one of the most bizarre single choices of all time, Cher's record company tried to cash in on the roller-disco craze with the frankly disconcerting rock-disco hybrid of "Hell On Wheels". The single is charming as a slice of 70s nostalgia but far from the best song on the album. "Hell On Wheels" is notable, however, for its stunning video clip. "Hell On Wheels" is not only one of Cher's earliest videos but is also breathtakingly fabulous. Basically, Cher roller skates along a highway in a Lycra bodysuit!! Check it out below:
Once you've cleaned the cum off your screen, please re-focus your attention on the musical brilliance of "Prisoner"! Apart from a handful of "Take Me Home" rejects, the album is a bizarre mix of styles and influences. "Shoppin'" sounds like a demented showtune, "Boys & Girls" is a pounding rock song, the title track re-visits the traditional disco sound of "Take Me Home", while "Outrageous" could be Cher's personal theme song. As wonderful as these tunes are, my favourite cuts remain "Holdin' Out For Love" and "Holy Smoke". The former is an insidiously catchy pop ditty, while "Holy Smoke" is one of Cher's most fabulous disco moments and contains the classic line - "If I say go on and shove it, the media will love it! Holy smoke!"
"Prisoner" is readily available from online retailers. Try Amazon or iTunes. Better yet, purchase the budget Casablanca Years compilation which combines "Prisoner" and "Take Me Home" on the one CD. I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted!