Picks and Pans Review: Black Rose

updated 09/29/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/29/1980 01:00AM

Black Rose

Cher's quivering, over-mannered vocals on this LP need all the help they can get, and she gets more than she deserves. Producer James Newton Howard and the backup players—drummer Gary Ferguson, keyboardist Michael Finnigan, bassist Trey Thompson and guitarist Les Dudek (Cher's current squeeze)—make this a musically fine album; their finesse, however, unwittingly focuses attention on Cher's shallow talents. Too bad. Never Should've Started is a slashing New Wave rocker; Julie, by superwriters Bernie Taupin and Mike Chapman, is a pounding assault of bass, drums and synthesizers; Take It from the Boys, by Carole Bayer Sager and Bruce Roberts, drives with pop-rock slickness and some heavy Dudek flash. You Know It, Dudek's buoyant pop-rock contribution, has the album's best vocal—by Dudek himself. Cher sings mostly on pitch and is likably raunchy when she growls. But she indulges—regardless of mood or tempo—the same tendency to pronounce simple words like some Elvis imitator in drag: heavy becomes "hay-vee"; parting becomes "pawting"; temperature is mumbled as "temp'chuhh." In the word "split" Cher even discovers several entirely new vowel sounds. Drummer Ferguson, a brilliant studio player, once recorded with sessions colleagues as the Group with No Name. This album could be vastly improved, rerecorded by the Group with No Singer.

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