It’s late and I work early tomorrow. I should have been writing this post tonight but we watched Maleficent on Blu-ray instead and I don’t care what the critics said, it was well worth it. Before I did that, I took Anna to see her horse and swung by ZZZ Records in Des Moines where they were holding Suzanne Vega’s debut album for me. Since I was there and no one was with me to be bored, I had to take the opportunity to browse a little bit. I hadn’t been there in a while and I thought there was a good chance they’d have some new stuff that I hadn’t seen before. Imagine my surprise when I came across a 12″ promo copy of Cher’s 1996 single “One By One.”
“One By One” is one of Cher’s forgotten singles, but it is one of my favorites. Back when it was released, it and the album it comes from, It’s A Man’s World, were complete surprises to me. Cher hadn’t released an album since 1991’s Love Hurts and I was pretty sure that she was done recording albums at the ripe old age of 50. But then all of a sudden, she was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and it was like Christmas. New Cher was so rare at that time – although we had no idea – and I was seriously excited by the prospect of the album and the single.
The song is kind of a slow R&B jam – a style that I normally wouldn’t have paid much attention to, but it was CHER for Pete’s sake. I’m pretty sure that I bought the album prior to the single, because the single took the song in a completely different direction, with remixes by then ultra-hot remixer Junior Vasquez. It also featured one of the best Cher B-sides ever in “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)”, which was actually on the UK release of the album. It was at this point that I said “tell me more about this UK release.”
As it turns out, the album was retooled when it was released in the U.S. Three tracks were jettisoned and 5 tracks – including “One By One” – were remixed to contain more R&B elements, ostensibly to make it more palatable to American listeners. I couldn’t help but notice that the version of “One By One” that was in the remixes just didn’t sound like the single version that I was used to and that was because the remixes were based on the UK single mix, which is vastly superior in my opinion. As opposed to the Boyz II Men groove, it contains a more industrial sound that just really works for the song. You can compare the two here – U.S. version first, U.K. version second.
I think you’ll agree that the second is much better. For the longest time, I thought it had to be a completely different vocal. But the more I listen to it, the more I’m convinced it’s just that the production of the song is so different that it completely changes the delivery of Cher’s vocals. It wasn’t until the Napster days that I was able to finally get a copy of the 5 UK tracks that were remixed and the other two deleted tracks. Replacing the U.S. remixes with the original mixes makes the album much more cohesive. Really, Don Henley’s “Not Enough Love In The World” really doesn’t need an R&B remix.
Much like “One By One”, It’s A Man’s World is frequently forgotten, especially since Cher’s rebirth as a dance diva in the 2000s and beyond. But it’s one that deserves to be remembered as one of Cher’s better efforts, especially in the form before they infused it with R&B.