Sonny and Cher were a fixture in the 1970s, reportedly selling over 80 million albums. After a four-year lull, their career hit high speed in 1971 with the launch of their top-rated TV show. That same year they recorded “Sonny and Cher: Live,” leaving behind the single best example of the chemistry that made the duo popular.
Cher was 25, Sonny 36, and it had been over six years since they’d hit the music scene with “I Got You, Babe.” This album finds the two in top form, building on their years of experience but grateful for the new attention. Taking no chances, they sing three different songs by The Beatles – “Something,” “Hey Jude,” and “Got To Get You Into My Life.” Cher was a powerful singer, and she delivers a series amazing performances on strong songs like “Someday (You’ll Want Me To Want You),” but also the classic Irish folk song “Danny Boy.” Sonny offered a nice contrast with his simple-and-sincere renditions of songs like his only solo hit, “Laugh at Me,” and promises the audience that real message of “Hey Jude” is simply “Let it all hang out and have fun.”
But they’d also mastered a genuinely funny stage act, with Sonny bantering amiably with the crowd while Cher shoots down his pretentions.
“I wrote this song,” says Sonny, as the band starts the bass line for “The Beat Goes On.”
“Whoopee” says Cher, sarcastically.
Confident that Cher could belt out a show-stopper, they take their time chatting and connecting with the audience. (And this album even captures a few risque jokes which they couldn’t do on TV.) Freed from the rigid schedules of network TV, the couple gives a relaxed timing to their banter, and one of their bits stretches on for five minutes (as the beat for the next song starts, stops, and then eventually starts again in the background). And their band rocks, too, with keyboard, bass, guitar, and drums all delivering impressive solo riffs during the finale of “Hey Jude.”
Sonny and Cher eventually racked up one platinum album, one double platinum album, and three gold albums. This was one of the gold ones – but it’s the only one recorded live, capturing the presence and the personalities that gave Cher’s singing such a unique showcase.