Cher has recorded over 30 studio albums stretching over five decades, a fact that is making it harder and harder for her former critics to keep dismissing her as a bona-fide musical presence.
Respect for Cher musically is in an interesting flux. At the turn of the century, Cher started appearing on many retrospective best-of lists on TV shows and in magazines. She is moving from being merely cited as a footnote in texts about women in music (She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul by Lucy O'Brien -1995 and Women and Popular Music: Sexual, Identity and Subjectivity by Sheila Whiteley - 2000) to being showcased as an influence and presence of substance (We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock by Gerri Hirshey - 2001). Read more details about this phenomenon in the introduction of my second Cher Zine, Cher: Critically Revised.
Musically, we can deconstruct Cher product through these prisms:
- Rare vs. hits: the top ten hits vs. the b-sides and bootlegs
- Decade by decade evolutions
- Cher singing in French and Italian
- Lyric themes: for instance, the unwed mother in 60s folk songs vs. the jilted, pregnant lover in the 70s narrative ballads
- Genres: pop-folk, narrative ballads, standards, disco, dance, 80s-hair pop-rock
- The major producers: Sonny Bono, Snuff Garrett, Jimmy Webb, Jerry Wexler to the one-offs of Ron Dante and the results of song-by-song production in her 80s, 90s, and modern albums.
Cher's discography and album details on Wikipedia.