Rock Candy [Release date 09.10.20]
1980: on the surface, Black Rose had little going for it. And yet Cher, guitarist Les Dudek’s part time girlfriend, fronted the band. Strangely, it played down Cher’s involvement. To its cost. The band’s one and only self titled album was a commercial failure.
And yet, it had half a dozen melodic rock songs written by genre giants like David Foster, David Paich, Bernie Taupin, Carole Bayer Sager, Mike Chapman and Vince Poncia. Check any of these out online and you’re faced with a unending list of best selling music.
The album was produced by movie soundtrack oscar winner, James Newton Howard, yet even this apparent advantage was squandered. The original recording was surprisingly underpowered and milkily mixed.
Cher over emotes occasionally, but we know that now, and there’s clear conviction in the band’s studio performance. But the album never really overcomes its handicaps. All the songs intend to do more or less the same thing, and none of them really fail. But considering their pedigree, none of them really standout. Which means that almost by default, ‘Never Should Have Started’, ‘Take It From The Boys’ and ‘You Know It’ are the picks, if only because they have developed some character, and step over the pre-defined musical limits occasionally.
40 years later, the recording’s sound is boosted here by Jon Astley’s remastering, and we get a taste of the fresh new band flavour that should have been. It helps bring a late focus on rising stars who were ready to take on Blondie, and indeed any of the other New Wave/Melodic Rock bands in the ascendant at the time.
A second album was mooted, but never took off. Cher went solo and turned into the Rockchick she always wanted to be (you can hear it on most tracks here), and signed for Geffen. The rest is history.
Review by Brian McGowan
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