We’re revisiting a rarely heard cover of Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young’s ‘Mr. Soul’ from none other than Cher. It may not be the iconic singer’s finest moment but it makes for such a curious collection of legends in one place we couldn’t help but look back.
Cher recorded her version ‘Mr. Soul’ all the way back in 1975 but it’s release largely flew under the radar of everybody. Not only had Young not quite become the icon of nowadays, but it was also on an album full of relative failures, the record was a huge commercial disappointment and it has meant this cover has been left underground for some time.
Cher’s cover originally appeared on her record Stars which isn’t on streaming platforms and has been notoriously difficult for fans to get their hands on for the subsequent four and a half decades since its release. This meant that many aficionados of both Young and Cher’s work saw the crossing of these icon’s paths completely pass them by.
The record was nothing short of a flop for Cher, it didn’t even crack the Top 100 in the charts. To make matters worse it was her first full release following her divorce from husband and musical partner Sonny Bono—it was meant to be the beginning of a new Cher era. Things did not go to plan and left Cher with egg on her face. She would naturally recover to become one of pop’s undying icons, but for a moment the fear of failure must’ve crossed her mind.
The album has never been released on CD, iTunes and streaming platforms due to Cher owning the album’s master rights and Warner having no right to reissue it. With such a failure and the emotion wrapped up in it, it is no wonder the album has been kept under wraps for so long.
Margaret Stevens, a former staff member at Warner Bros. said of the record’s commercial disaster: “It’s not what we expected. Her personal life was too high-profile and no one could take her seriously as a recording artist…No matter how strong the product, a bias had developed.”
The only way for fans to hear this rare album is to find an original LP, a few can be found pretty easily online and are surprisingly reasonably priced or alternatively listen to the fan-made vinyl transfers that have been shared on YouTube.
Stars which is by and large a covers record, not only sees Cher take on the Buffalo Springfield beast but also Eric Clapton’s ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ and Jimmy Cliff’s ‘The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall’.
‘Mr. Soul’ originally appeared as a B-Side to Buffalo Springfield’s fourth single ‘Bluebird’ and it then went on to feature on to the group’s second record Buffalo Springfield Again. The track was penned by Neil Young after he had an epilepsy attack after a show with Buffalo Springfield in San Francisco. The group’s performance had been so visceral many people in the audience questioned whether it was an elaborate part of the act by Young.
The track was written while he was a patient at UCLA Medical Center, where he wrote the song once he was awake and tackles his disregard towards rock stardom and fame, in general. The lyrics discuss Young’s experience and the overwhelming feeling of experiencing his own mortality after being advised by his doctor to never take LSD or any other hallucinogenic drugs again.
Cher’s take on ‘Mr. Soul’ is wildly different to the original but it is nothing short of sublime which makes the whole mystery regarding the album even more fascinating as to why she isn’t proud of it.
Listen to her wonderous rendition, below.