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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cher News Celebrates The 25th Anniversary of Cher's Heart Of Stone album

Cher's 'Heart Of Stone' album
Exactly 25 years ago, on 22 July 1989, Cher's 19th studio album Heart Of Stone entered the US Billboard 200 chart (at #88). Cher News takes a look at the star-studded album's legacy...

Background

By 1989, Cher: had released 1987's album Cher to Gold (and eventually Platinum) success; released her first transatlantic Top 10 single in over 15 years, I Found Someone; had just won 1988's Best Actress Academy Award for Moonstruck; and, as she herself admits, was in the best physical shape of her life.

The aforementioned pop-rock self-titled album had bought her back to the Billboard 200 for the first time since since 1979 (Take Me Home) and the first time on the UK album chart since 1966 (The Sonny Side Of Chér) - and therefore she knew to stick to the same genre and players for her next album.

The players? Well, singer-songwriter Michael Bolton and top songwriters Diane Warren and Desmond Child had provided song-writing duties; Toto's Steve Lukather had played guitar; Bon Jovi members Jon Bon Jovi and Richies Sambora had provided both song-writing and background vocals; whilst 1970's/80's rocker Bonnie Tyler and Cher's eventual-long-time backing vocalist Patty Darcy had provided backing vocals. Bolton, Child, Bon Jovi, Sambora all produced the Geffen Records album as well as Peter Asher and Jon Lind. They were all recruited for Heart Of Stone...

Content

1. If I Could Turn Back Time
Rather famously, Cher didn't want to record the album's opener when she first heard songwriter Diane Warren's demo of it but finally gave in when Warren continued to badger her to do so (luckily for us). Warren, along with Guy Roche, produced the track - which featured backing vocals from 1980's singers Robin Beck (First Time) and Maria Vidal (Body Rock) and Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony among others.

2. Just Like Jesse James
Warren and Desmond Child wrote this pop-rock Wild West-referencing ballad - and the latter produced it. The song, which Cher says contains "an awful lot of words", featured singer-songwriter Brenda Russell (Piano In The Dark) on backing vocals alongside its songwriters.

Michael Bolton and Cher
Michael Bolton and Cher
3. You Wouldn't Know Love
Track number three was written by Michael Bolton and Diane Warren. The former produced and arranged the track and interestingly, recorded it and released it on his on his own album Soul Provider, which entered the Billboard 200 (at #167) on the same date as Heart Of Stone!

4. Heart Of Stone
The album's album track was actually a cover: the year before, it was the final UK chart entry (#50) for UK male/female group Bucks Fizz (who shot to European fame in 1981 as winners of the Eurovision song contest with Making Your Mind Up). Songwriters Andy Hill and Pete Sinfield then gave the song to Cher and producer Peter Asher. Californian singer-songwriter Andrew Gold (Lonely Boy) and Australian singers Peter Blakely (Crying In The Chapel) and Wendy Matthews (The Day You Went Away) were enlisted for background vocals on it.

5. Still In Love With You
This track was produced, arranged and co-wrote (with Bob Halligan Jr. - whom went on to co-write Could've Been You for Love Hurts) by Michael Bolton. One of the song's backing vocalists is Suzie Benson - who featured on a duet on Michael Bolton's aforementioned Soul Provider.


Cher with Desmond Child
Cher with Desmond Child
6. Love On A Rooftop
Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes (whom Cher provided backing vocals for in the sixties) originally recorded this number for her (criminally under-appreciated) 1987 solo album Unfinished Business. Songwriters Child and Warren let Cher and producer Asher put their spin on it. Wendy Fraser (featured on Patrick Swayze's She's Like The Wind) was among the backing vocalists.

7. Emotional Fire
Cher's fellow 1980's pop-rocker Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse Of The Heart - in case it needs noting) features on backing vocals on this massive rock number. Joining her, Bolton and others on backing vocals was Jimmy Demers - most noted for his "Always Coca-Cola" jingle. It took Child (also producer), Bolton and Warren to write this song - which opened up Side B on the vinyl edition of the album. It was later covered along with You Wouldn't Know Love on an album entitled Emotional Fire by group Sunstorm - which included Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, who had provided backing vocals on Cher!

8. All Because Of You
This was one of two of the songs on the album produced and co-written (on this one, with Sue Schifrin) by John Lind. Lind, who also co-wrote Cher's Skin Deep on Cher, also provided backing vocals as well as Chicago frontman (after Peter Cetera) Jason Scheff!

Richie Sambora; Cher; Jon Bon Jovi
Richie Sambora; Cher;
Jon Bon Jovi
9. Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore?
This track with its huge chorus was, unsurprisingly, written by Jon Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora alongside serial-songwriters Child and Warren for Bon Jovi's 1988 album New Jersey. However, it failed to be made anything more than a demo by the group before they gifted it to Cher and producer Child. The song was later covered by Kane Roberts in 1991, reaching #38 on the US Hot 100.

10. Starting Over
Michael Bolton teamed up with Jonathan Cain (Journey's pianist whom composed Don't Stop Believin') to write this track whilst single-handedly producing and arranging it. This and Emotional Fire have been said to have been originally demo'd by Bolton for his 1987 The Hunger album.

11. Kiss To Kiss
This is Jon Lind's second brainchild on the album - producing it, providing backing vocals for it, and of course, co-writing it (along with M.J. D'Astugues and Phil Galdston).

12. After All
Chicago's most famous frontman Peter Cetera joined Cher on this romantic duet. It's writers were Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford - the former had written songs for Cher (Let This Be A Lesson To Ya and Holdin' Out For Love) in the 1970's. It has been said that Cetera and Cher recorded their vocals separately for the track.

"Cher's best album from the 80's, Heart Of Stone is the album that catapulted her to fame again with hits like 'If I Could Turn Back Time', 'Just Like Jesse James' and 'Heart Of Stone'. This album goes from strength to strength on those three songs alone. With strong lyrics, strong beats and the strong vocals of Cher, this album is simply a  winner" - Blogcritics

Artwork

Artist Octavio Occampo was recruited to paint the album's artwork. Rather cleverly, it was of Cher sitting next to a heart of stone, which created the illusion of a skull. Though early copies of the album were issued using this cover, it was soon replaced on subsequent copies with a photograph of Cher standing with her hands forming a heart.

Cher's 'Heart Of Stone' album

Success

Remarkably, Cher had already charted a whopping 17 solo albums on the Billboard 200 by 1989 without entering the Top 10 (1965's All I Really Want To Do and 1971's Gypsys Tramps & Thieves came closest at #16). However, Heart Of Stone ended that streak when it peaked at #10 thus becoming Cher's first ever US Top 10 solo album – though she already achieved one with Sonny in 1965 (Look At Us, #2).

Thanks to its high-quality tracks, smash hit singles and supporting tour, the album spent over a year on the Billboard 200 and became Cher's best-selling album in the States, becoming her first multi-Platinum album (eventually Triple-Platinum) and eventually selling around 3.4-million copies there (although 1998's Believe album would take its place with around 3.6-million).

It wasn't just US record-buyers that was captivated by Heart Of Stone: by reaching the top spot in Australia, the album became Cher's first ever #1 album - anywhere. There, it went Quadruple-Platinum! That same certification was given to the album in Canada - where it spent 50 weeks on the chart. It also spent a massive 82 weeks on the UK album chart (where it went Platinum), went Gold in Sweden and Platinum in New Zealand. The album has sold over 4.8-million copies worldwide.

"This lady can rock. There is no question about that, and this album is one of several from her catalog that serve as a testament to that fact" - Allmusic

Singles

1. After All
This duet (that sadly has no music video) with Peter Cetera served as the love theme to the largely-forgotten film Chances Are and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 1990 Academy Awards. It was also the first North American single to be released from Heart Of Stone, in February. It reached #6 on the US Hot 100 (Cher's highest charting there since 1974) and having 500,000 copies shipped to stores in the States, After All became Cher's first RIAA Gold-certified single since 1979's million-seller Take Me HomeAfter All has become a US Million-seller since too.

2. If I Could Turn Back Time
Some call this one her signature song. The #3 peak of this second single replaced After All to provide the Cher with her highest US Hot 100 peak in 15 years (since 1974's #1 Dark Lady). Heart Of Stone also became Cher's sole album to contain two Billboard Adult Contemporary #1 singles with After All and If I Could Turn Back Time. The single also reached #6 in the UK, and more impressively, #1 for seven weeks(!) in Australia (where it was certified Double-Platinum). It was certified Gold in the US, and has sold over 2-million copies worldwide. Of course, the single was promoted with a music video that features Cher, in a revealing body-stocking, performing on a US battleship in front of cheering sailors! A poppier B-side, Some Guys, remains exclusive to this single.


3. Just Like Jesse James
When this one entered the US Hot 100 Top 10 (peaking at #8), it made Heart Of Stone the first (and only) Cher album to have three US Hot 100 Top 10 singles. It did even better on Billboard's rival chart Cash Box, where it peaked at #4. Again, this has no music video - and Cher has stated that she's not a huge fan of the song: on her Farewell  Tour, she stated, "I never really liked this song. I did it and then I went away and I didn't do a video and didn't do anything. And then I came back and it was a huge hit - and I thought 'Jesus Christ, this song is kind of crap but it'a big hit." The single has sold nearly a million copies in the States and thus over a million worldwide - becoming Heart Of Stone's third million-selling single!

4. Heart Of Stone
The album's final North American single, the title track, managed to give Cher her fourth consecutive US Hot 100 Top 20 single from the album, by peaking at #20. About the song, Cher said, "It's actually one of my favorite, favorite songs. One of my all-time favorite songs. And I think it's a song that most typifies me - if there can be such a thing." Its music video reflects that, featuring the singer alone in a room with two large screens that display footage of her younger self, her children and former loves before moving onto scenes of world-famous heart-rending events, great injustice, people of power, war, peace, drugs and poverty.


5. You Wouldn't Know Love
The UK was treated to You Wouldn't Know Love as a single. With zero promotion, other than radio play, the single peaked at #55, with nearby Ireland taking it to #29. In total, Heart Of Stone's five singles have sold over 4.7-million copies worldwide.

Don't own the album? Buy it on Amazon or Amazon.co.uk.

2 comments:

  1. LOVE TIS ALBUM, CHER IS A ROCK CHICK AT HEART,, HOPE CHER's next album features more of this kind of music

    ReplyDelete