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August 1, 2010

Sonny Bono – Inner Views [Mono] (1967)

Artist: Sonny Bono.
Title: Inner Views
Year: 1967
Format: LP
Label: Atco

Sonny Bono was one half of the duo Sonny & Cher, of course. He was also a protege of Phil Spector’s, the composer of “Needles & Pins” and the first American celebrity with a Beatle haircut. In a more perfect world perhaps he could have earned a cult following like Lee Hazlewood (whose career has many parallels to Sonny’s.)

But basically, Sonny & Cher were hipsters, not hippies — they wore the groovy clothes and all, but they were ultimately just an updated version of “nice young couples” from earlier in the decade like Paul & Paula or Frankie & Annette (that their greatest success was a TV comedy-variety show kind of proves the point.)

Perhaps in 1965 an argument could be made that Sonny & Cher represented the new radical culture on some level, but by 1967 the kids were all smoking pot and Sonny & Cher records were looking incredibly square. The perfect time for Sonny to go solo and record a psychedelic opus! Which needless to say was “Inner Views” — a monumental flop or a camp classic, depending on your point of view.

“I Just Sit There” is 13 minutes of studio hacks playing a go-go groove with sitars and bad harmonica solos all over the place. Sonny “just sits there” and comments on all the far-out stuff that’s going on these days in between quotes from the Beatles and the Battle Hymn of the Republic(?!) “Trippers, strippers, hips or squares / divide the line and tell me where / Oh my God I’m growing up! / How the hell do I fill my cup?” is what passes for an honest reflection. But “the world looks like a little ball / and people don’t exist at all, OH WOW!” is more typical of Sonny’s jive.

“I Told My Girl To Go Away” is a less interesting tune, a schmaltzy dirge that cops the melody line from “I read the news today, oh boy” for it’s own titular line (and this after already outright stealing that “I read the news today” line in the previous track!)

Side two begins with “I Would Marry You Today” which is churchbell cheese that has nothing to do with any free love sixties philosophy, 100% the opposite in fact. No suprise Mr. Bono later became a republican congressman!

“My Best Friend’s Girl Is Out Of Sight” is more upbeat, in fact it was the flop-single from the LP. It’s typical of the “free love double standard” I suppose — Sonny would marry you today, except he’s convinced his best friend’s chick is digging on him — so get outta his face, unnamed current girlfriend. A man has a duty to . . . get dug on by other chicks, or something.

“Pammie’s On A Bummer” is another highlight, nearly 8 minutes more of sitars and other exotic instruments making horrible noise that is supposed to be “groovy” while Sonny, sounding stoned (but of course he’s not kids!) relates the bummer tale of Pammie who “started smoking pot just to keep herself from flipping / but it wasn’t strong enough so she graduated to tripping.” The drugs also turn her to prostitution (of course) and she “gets hung up on an untouchable cat” and now “nobody knows where she’s at.”

On the one hand you can grudgingly give the guy some props for putting out a record that bears no resemblence to “Sonny & Cher” and on which he swears several times (just damns and hells though) and talks about prostitution, girls losing their virginity, druuuuuugs and other heavy “adult topics.” But of course on that level it’s an insincere disaster and a misguided effort to commercialize on the rising subculture. Not to mention the fact that Sonny can’t sing his way out of a paper bag in the first place!

But this record is worth hunting down for “I Just Sit There” and “Pammie” which are two of the greatest overblown pompous wrong-headed “freakouts” ever put to wax. Two years earlier Sonny had put out a single called “Laugh At Me” and on “Inner Views” he really delivered on that promise! (Dog Headheritage)

Track Listing

  1. I Just Sit There
  2. I Told My Girl To Go Away
  3. I Would Marry You Today
  4. My Best Friend’s Girl Is Out Of Sight
  5. Pammie’s On A Bummer
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