As Sonny & Cher were debuting on Atco, Sonny finagled a solo deal for Cher on the Imperial label. Although The Byrds had a competing version on the charts, Cher's version of Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do" (#15) scored higher on the back of the summer phenomenon, "I Got You Babe." If his biography No Direction Home is to be believed, Dylan was apparently pissed off about it. Sonny & Cher were just not cool...even then. But Cher loved to cover Dylan and her run starts here with three songs including the title cut, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "Blowin' In the Wind." Many Cher covers fall short of their originals ("He Thinks I Still Care," "The Bells of Rhymney," "Come and Stay With Me") but the Bono-penned "Needles & Pins" sounds much better under Cher than it did as a hit with The Searchers. Also of note: Ray Davies' "I Go To Sleep" (later a hit with The Pretenders), Cher's version of the Bono-Greene-Stone written Elvis staple "C.C. Rider," and Bono's take on his former employer's famous Wall of Sound with the song "Dream Baby." The album has a folky spin to differentiate it from simultaneous Sonny & Cher fare. Cher wavers a little on her own at this point. Very raw. Not one of her 60s best.
Up to this point, Sonny has been at the helm of all Sonny & Cher and Cher material. Imperial has now dropped Cher and Atco gives her a one-album solo-shot but only if Sonny relinquishes power. Soon after Chastity is born, Cher is packed off to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to work with famed producers Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler, the very same producers who put together the stupendous classic Dusty in Memphis this very same year. Frustratingly, these producers struggle with Cher and she struggles with much of the material here. For all their good intentions and possibility of the project, the low points detract from some very striking highlights, which include two Dylan covers, "Lay Lady Lay" and her solidly sultry cover of "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You." Covers of "For What It's Worth" and "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" seem highly unnecessary and awkward, as does her final Dylan cover (from a whopping 5-year total of 10!) "I Threw It All Away." The worst track is "Cry Like a Baby." But Cher's version of Dr. John's "Walk on Guilded Splinters" is one of my top-ten favorite Cher songs and her version of the Aretha classic "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" is passable. But it's hard not to imagine what might have been: Cher's version of "Son of a Preacher Man"! Cher's album was the first album made at the 3614 Jackson Highway studio. 2b1af7f3a8