Released in the spring of 1999, Bang Bang: The Early Years
arrived at the perfect time. After years in exile -- she hadn't had a hit single or movie in over five years -- Cher
returned to the spotlight in early 1998 under tragic circumstances, delivering a moving eulogy at Sonny Bono
's funeral. It served as a reminder to a mass audience that she was alive and well, and within a year, she had a huge hit single with "Believe" and a hit movie with Tea with Mussolini. All in all, it was the perfect opportunity for a collection that spotlighted her recordings for Imperial from the mid-'60s. There had been many compilations focusing on her duets with Sonny
, but Bang Bang
was the first in many years to focus directly on her solo recordings, and at a generous 18 tracks, it ranks among the best of its kind ever assembled. All seven of her charting singles for Imperial -- "All I Really Want to Do," "Where Do You Go," "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," "Alfie," "Behind the Door," "Hey Joe," "You Better Sit Down Kids" -- are here, along with most of the B-sides and selected album tracks. There may be a personal favorite or two missing, but overall this is as close as it comes to a definitive collection of Cher
's early solo recordings. Overall, the songs aren't quite as strong as those she recorded with Sonny
, but it's still very good indeed.