Cher Up! It’s the Sonny, Cher, and Sonny & Cher Special Edition: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 13, 2021

281) Sonny Bono — “My Best Friend’s Girl Is Out of Sight.”

Ah, Sonny. His sole solo album, his late ’67 psychedelic opus Inner Views, is not well known — Bruce Eder notes in All Music Guide that it “disappeared without a trace of its passing.” However, those who have been turned on to it seem to have polar opposite reactions — delight or derision. Nathan Ford fondly writes that:

Sonny briefly dropped Cher (and a lot of LSD by the sound of it) for this surprisingly hip psychedelic opus. There are sitars all over the place and the lengthier tracks . . . have the slightly unhinged quality of Eric Burdon’s San Francisco narratives. It all fits together marvelously as an album and has moments that suggest a wiggier Lee Hazlewood. Why this potential cult favourite has remained largely unchampioned is a mystery to us.

http://active-listener.blogspot.com/2014/08/40-obscure-psychedelic-rock-pop-albums.html

Gabe Crawford is similarly effusive:

In 1967 Sonny Bono did the unthinkable. He departed from Cher . . . and made his own album. Inner Views is not well known, and definitely not renowned, but it does deserve serious respect. . . . By the time Inner Views was released Sonny was 32. He was past his party heyday and was actually quite conservative in nature. He did not smoke pot or partake in any other kinds of drugs. [H]is age and maturity are a major factor in the content of this album while showing some serious songwriting skills. . . .

https://vinylculturenyc.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/the-little-man-that-couldnt-2/

On the other hand, Serene Dominic is deliciously and hilariously bitchy in the great new online journal Psychedelic Scene Magazine:

Everybody who made a record before 1967 has at least one bad psychedelic moment and this week you’d better sit down, kids. Sonny Bono’s Psychedelic Skelton in the Closet wants to bum you out. . . . Sonny, who had a voice like the horn on a Hyundai[, f]or some unexplained reason . . . cut an entire album by himself . . . . Its cover is a hideous etching of Sonny sitting peacefully with a smokey genie of Cher billowing next to him . . . . In Sonny’s autobiography And The Beat Goes On, he admits, “I tried chasing the newer sound for awhile but could never get a handle on it. The LP Inner Views was my attempt at psychedelic music. . . .” [S]onny understands the requirements of this new music (to take drugs and do everything to excess) but stubbornly refuses to follow through with those requirements (by doing everything to excess stone cold sober) . . . . There aren’t two grooves pressed together on the whole first side that escape contamination from squiggly sitar runs . . . . [l]ike the dull droning buzz of a dying bee or the hum of a faulty air conditioner . . . .

https://psychedelicscene.com/2021/08/23/psychedelic-skeletons-in-the-closet-sonny-bono/

And Lindsay Planer in All Music Guide opines that “the album reinforces why Bono let his then professional partner and wife, Cher, take the vocals. . . .”

My verdict? Well, I’m playing a cut, aren’t I? Whether or not it is a guilty pleasure, in my mind’s eye, Inner Views is pure pleasure. As to “My Best Friend’s Girl Is Out of Sight,” I think the song is out of sight. Lindsay Planer says that the “ragtime rhythm that drives the tale of jealousy on . . . comes off . . . as hopelessly antediluvian.” Wait, isn’t that a compliment? Think of Dylan and the Band’s Before the Flood.

“I just got home and I don’t feel right. I went on a double date tonight. I’m trying to rest but I feel uptight. My best friend’s girl is out of sight. . . . Get a hold of yourself ’cause you’re not free. And even worse that‚ neither is she. I’m sure that it’s plain infatuation. So you better back off‚ it’s a bad situation. I kept telling myself, don’t believe what you see. But somehow I felt she was digging on me. . . . The hours passed like a long nightmare. I kissed my girl but it wasn’t there. I kept on dreaming while I held her tight. Oh, my best friend’s girl is out of sight.”

I’m still diggin’ on “My Best Friend’s Girl.” And I’m still diggin’ on Sonny. I even got to work with the man when he was a Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Don’t think I won’t select another cut or two from Inner Views. Well, I’d threaten more, but the album only had five songs!

282) Cher — “Masters of War”

In ’68, Cher cut the best cover version of “Masters of War” that I have heard. Yes, you heard right, Cher the protest singer, the Zimmerwoman. Joe Viglione wonders in All Music Guide whether “the song was describing behind-the-scenes at the Bono household?” Yeah, well, the personal is political!

283) Sonny & Cher — “Leave Me Be”

The song is a cover of the Zombies’s ’64 A-side that S&C included on ’66’s The Wondrous World of Sonny & Cher. Richie Unterberger in All Music Guide calls the album “pleasant Spectorian mid-’60s pop-rock (heavy on the bells and glockenspiel especially)” and says that S&C’s “taste in cover material was eclectic and for the most part good [including] the Zombies’ obscurity ‘Leave Me Be’ . . . .” Well, Cher the Zombie-killer kills it. Man, when she snarls “better leave me alone,” the venom just drips off the grooves.

For reference, here is the Zombies’s version:

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