There’s never been a musical trend that Cher has been afraid to jump upon.  From watered down hippie-dippy love songs to disco to adult contemporary schlock, the Dark Lady has matched only maybe Bowie in appropriating the current musical climate for her own campy needs.  And New Wave was no exception.

Cher’s flirtation with New Wave started as the ’80s blossomed – she had just released a second, much less successful follow-up to Take Me Home, and the Casablanca disco sound she was currently trading in was on the wane.  Enter Black Rose, a “punk” band that featured Cher on vocals and her then-current boyfriend on guitar.  The idea was that Black Rose was a real band, not a vanity project, so Cher’s image was purposely left off the front album cover art and the press materials downplayed her presence.  The result was a universally ignored album and Black Rose soon withered and died.

Flash forward two years later – Cher signed to Columbia Records for a one-album deal and was teamed with a group of hot writers to record her pop comeback, 1982’s I Paralyze.  Paired with Olivia Newton-John songwriter/producer John Farrar, who was on fire with a streak of hits for John that appropriated New Wave’s synths and drum machines, Cher released the title track (download) as the lead single.  Sounding like an outtake from Physical, “I Paralyze” had all the makings of a sure-fire hit.  However, the single suffered from scant promotion – no video was shot and Cher only made dulsatory appearances on “Solid Gold” and a rapidly aging “American Bandstand” to market it.

Cher’s then-diminished standings in the pop world and the weak promo push resulted in a non-charting lead-off single, not a good sign for the I Paralyze album as a whole.  While most of the world couldn’t hum a bar of the song, it remains a favorite of diva – she even mentions it in her VH1 “Behind the Music” episode as a song she loves and would like to re-record someday.

Columbia didn’t give up completely, though, releasing a second single, the more straight-ahead rock number “Rudy,” (download) co-written by Village People impresario Jacques Morali of all people.  Unfortunately, unlike a lot of the People’s singles, “Rudy” was a little shy in the hooks department and disappeared quickly.

While I Paralyze featured a few New Wave-ish and rock tunes, it covered some other stylistic territory as well.  “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?” (download) is a particular standout, a country-inflected tune co-written by none other than Dorsey Burnette.  You have to wonder how it may have fared as a single … as it was, it stuck out like a sore thumb on the album, but it may just have saved it.

For all of Cher’s lip service for “I Paralyze” the song, you never see it pop up on any Cher compilations.  Perhaps its obscurity works against it, but the album was eventually released on CD in 1999 and strangely enough, remains in print.

Neither single charted.

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