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Covering Cher flip side with Lisa McClowry, plus Carl Giammarese and Keys

The Buckinghams’ Carl Giammarese and Cher tribute artist Lisa McClowry along with Mark Mangold from Keys are interviewed by Fabulous Flip Sides columnist Warren Kurtz about their new releases
Lisa Mc main

Carl Giammarese & Lisa McClowry have written and released the beautiful new duet “I Will Love You Forever.”

Keyboardist Mark Mangold from American Tears and Touch has assembled a new keyboard driven group called Keys with vocalist Jake E from Cyhra and keyboardist Charlie Calv from Angel. Their self-titled album is available on Cargo Records/12:12 Records.

   

PART ONE - LISA McCLOWRY

Lisa Mc Beat

GOLDMINE: Congratulations on your beautiful new duet with Carl Giammarese of The Buckinghams. Before we get to that, let’s talk about Cher, someone you transform into nightly. Let’s begin with Cher’s first Top 10 solo single “Bang Bang,” written by Sonny Bono, which reached No. 2 in 1966.

LISA McCLOWRY: In my show, The Beat Goes On, we actually do the 1987 rock version, which I was interested to learn was co-produced by Jon Bon Jovi.

GM: Yes, to me it is the Bon Jovi version, produced by Desmond Child, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, who Cher would later date.

LM: It is such a great track with not only Jon Bon Jovi among the background vocalists, but also Michael Bolton. That version always goes over so well when we perform it.

GM: That 1987 album is so powerful, beginning with “I Found Someone” which Michael Bolton co-wrote with Mark Mangold, who I will be talking with later. Mark let me know that Laura Branigan had recorded the song before Cher.

LM: I think that “I Found Someone” was a great song for Laura Branigan as well. It is so sad to have lost her. This is one of my favorite songs to sing in the show.

GM: When Cher became a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2018, we featured three flip sides over three decades, including “Dangerous Times,” the flip side of “I Found Someone” in our Goldmine coverage. Now, let’s discuss another flip side here, “He’ll Never Know,” the flip side of her first gold single, “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.” Her delivery is so dramatic, like a female Elvis. 

LM: I think it was an interesting song for the time in the 1970s with the sexual culture changing and a song to support that was good. The premise of “He’ll Never Know” is the son she has, which she shares with another man, is not his, but he’ll never know. It is a pretty deep and heavy subject. It kind of goes along with some of the other songs on that album. It originally came out on her seventh studio album, just called Cher, and later was reissued with the name Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves because of the hit single.

Lisa Mc Cher flip side

Cher

Fabulous Flip Side: He’ll Never Know

A side: Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves

Billboard Top 100 debut: September 18, 1971

Peak position: No. 1

Kapp K-2146

“The premise of ‘He’ll Never Know’ is the son she has, which she shares with another man, is not his, but he’ll never know. It is a pretty deep and heavy subject.” – Lisa McClowry, Cher tribute artist

GM: You quote Cher trivia so well. Were you a huge Cher fan prior to your stage show?

LM: Prior to playing Cher, I was a fan but didn’t dive deep into her life story until I started performing as Cher in 2017. I made it a point to learn everything I could about her and research her from the 1960s to now, her strengths, her vulnerabilities, her family life, and tried to get inside of her. I want to represent her well.

GM: My wife Donna and our daughter Brianna and I enjoyed the quirky film Mermaids. You perform the Cher hit “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” from the film.

LM: It is one of the highlights of our show. We get the women up on stage with us and it is very liberating for the women.

GM: Speaking about Brianna, as she began high school, she and her friends were tired of the school dance DJs not playing the music they wanted. When she turned sixteen, we decided to pack up our home system in the car, rented a party room at a hotel, and held her sixteenth birthday party there. It started my three-year run of being the DJ for her and her friends. During that time, Cher’s “Believe” was a song that the kids and the parents all enjoyed.

LM: The effects on Cher’s vocals became a thing, by using electronics to get those sounds, which we do on stage. For Cher, that’s usually her closing number in her show and is also the same closing number that I use for The Beat Goes On show. She made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest female to have a No. 1 record in the U.S. 

GM: It spent four weeks at No. 1 and was a platinum single and the CD single had different versions on it. What a big hit! To me, the title should have been “Life After Love” to not confuse it with other “Believe” songs.

LM: I like your title. She also received a Grammy for the record. Her music is very empowering, and women gravitate toward it. I notice a lot of women in our audience looking to be liberated, set free and empowered. A lot of Cher’s music lends to that.

GM: We mentioned the film Mermaids. Now let’s talk about the ABBA inspired movie sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again with Cher joining the cast and then recording her own ABBA covers album of songs from both films, including one of my favorites, “SOS.”

LM: I agree with what Cher has said, that these ABBA songs are some of the hardest to sing, “SOS,” “Fernando” and especially “Waterloo.” They are all in that upper register with a lot of lyrics and not much space to breathe. They are phenomenal songs that are so well written. Like you, I love “SOS.” I think it was so smart of Cher to release her versions of their work which also enables me to perform these songs in The Beat Goes On show.

GM: Your show is named after a song that debuted in The Top 40 in January 1967, the same month that The Buckinghams debuted with “Kind of a Drag.” Recently you have been recording duets with our mutual friend Carl Giammarese from that group. “I Will Love You Forever” is a beautiful duet.

LM: Carl allowed me to be his vocal coach and that was really wonderful. Not a lot of people who have been around the business all these decades would be open to taking suggestions from someone else. I feel honored that he trusted me with his voice. It was very inspiring for me because there was so much to work with using that voice of his. We just work well together. It is a very give and take situation which I also think led to the recording turning out as well as it did. He was really aiming to please for the situation and worked hard on the song. Every delivery he did was very genuine. We were able to pick up all the great colors in his voice, too, working with different microphones and making sure he was in close proximity to the microphones. We worked on phrasing, getting the most true and realistic performance out of him and I am grateful that he allowed that hard work to happen. I think it is a universal song of love in its purest form. Thank you so much for talking with me and Carl about our new song, all the Cher music, and for bringing up new ways of looking at these songs. I was so excited for Goldmine session today. I hope I can meet you and your family in Florida next March when The Beat Goes On show will be touring there for most of the month. 

Lisa McClowry with Sampson and dog neighbors Max and Bailey, courtesy of lisamcclowry.com

Lisa McClowry with Sampson and dog neighbors Max and Bailey, courtesy of lisamcclowry.com

   

PART TWO - CARL GIAMMARESE

Lisa Mc single

GM: Welcome back to Goldmine and thank you for connecting me with Lisa McClowry.

CARL GIAMMARESE: You are very welcome. Lisa is a Chicago person, like me, and I have known of her for a number of years, through her work with Jim Peterik. She is a wonderful talent, with a great singing voice and is an actress too. I have heard that her Cher shows are really great. When the pandemic began, we were all confined, and I was looking for projects to do. I was doing a lot of writing. A mutual friend of Lisa and mine, film producer Greg Bizzaro, suggested that I call Lisa. I introduced myself to her, but she already knew who I was. We hit it off immediately. Lisa talked me into doing a video duet of one of our Buckinghams hits, “Don’t You Care.” 

GM: Your approach is so nice and certainly unexpected after hearing this hit the same way since I grew up listening to your music in the mid-1960s.

CG: Thank you. It is one acoustic guitar and two voices, turning it into a slower love song and we had fun doing it. After “Don’t You Care” we got inspired to record more songs together as we got to know each other better. We then recorded a Sting duet he had done with Melody Gardot called “Little Something.” 

GM: Thank you for introducing me to this one. It has a nice tropical sound.

CG: It has a Latin beat, too. After that, the next plan was to record an original song that I had written called “Can You Love Me Forever?” I thought this love song would be great as a duet. We worked on it together and turned it into “I Will Love You Forever,” with Lisa rewriting a lot of the lyrics. I had part of a music track and she asked some of her people to get involved, too. John Blasucci, who is a talented keyboard player, produced it for us. I have a studio at my house where Lisa came over and worked on my vocals. I must say that my vocal was probably much better than had I produced it myself.

GM: It is an amazingly smooth vocal. My wife Donna and I feel that you sound thirty years younger.

CG: Lisa really coached and produced it, “No, do a little more this. You are a little softer here. Change your pitch there.” She is a very good vocal producer. After my vocals, she did hers and we combined the whole thing. John put it all together and mastered it. We released “I Will Love You Forever” on all the streaming sites. This beautiful love song is getting some attention. We would love to have it used in a film. I hope to do more work with Lisa. She is a very talented singer and performer. We found out that we have a nice vocal blend. She is a very pretty lady on her own and doesn’t look anything like Cher until she puts on the Cher makeup, wig, costumes and even uses Cher’s speaking voice as she turns into Cher. Thank you for promoting our new song and all you have done for me, The Buckinghams and now Lisa with Goldmine. Also, thank you for connecting me with The Cyrkle’s Pat McLoughlin where he will be interviewing me, like he did with you and others, for his Local Lix podcast series.

Look for Carl Giammarese coming to Pat McLoughlin’s Local Lix podcast series

Look for Carl Giammarese coming to Pat McLoughlin’s Local Lix podcast series

"I hope to do more work with Lisa. She is a very talented singer and performer. We found out that we have a nice vocal blend." – Carl Giammarese, The Buckinghams

Carl Giammarese, The Buckinghams at The Happy Together Tour 2022, Daytona Beach, Florida, June 2022

Carl Giammarese, The Buckinghams at The Happy Together Tour 2022, Daytona Beach, Florida, June 2022

  

PART THREE – MARK MANGOLD

Lisa Mc Keys

GM: Welcome back to Goldmine. I was just talking about you with singer Lisa McClowry, who sings “I Found Someone” in her Cher tribute show, The Beat Goes On. You and I have talked about your bands American Tears and Touch before, and now we can add Keys to our Goldmine coverage. Congratulations on the debut Keys album which opens with “When Shadows Fall.” When I heard the keyboards initially, I was reminded of a family favorite, Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”

MARK MANGOLD: It starts off with a lot of keyboard soloing, with the idea being a trade off of various keyboard players. I wanted it as a set opener to establish this barrage of keyboard styles. I tried to emulate a bit of Keith Emerson and a bit of Rick Wakeman and get as close to Eddie Van Halen on a keyboard guitar sound as I could, creating a keyboard assault. I am joined on keyboards by our mutual friend Charlie Calv from Angel and on vocals is Jake E from Cyhra. 

GM: At the very end, Jake reaches a very high vocal range reminding me of Uriah Heep.

MM: I love them. Jake has an impressive range and I think that we use it really well.

GM: Jake’s voice is also versatile. On “For Your Love” he becomes bluesy recalling the David Coverdale era of Deep Purple.

MM: We tried to get dark with his voice on the lower regions of the song.

GM: “Angelfire” becomes very powerful after a slow and dramatic opening, recalling Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

MM: It is interesting how references can change over time. That sound may have thought to be similar to Yes and then when Foreigner evolved, you can certainly compare that sound to them. We try to make the keyboard sounds as lush as possible. That particular song has four to five keyboard layers.

GM: “Sparrow” has a catchy keyboard part that stays in my head all day.

MM: That is the goal. I was locked up here in Stockholm for almost two years because of the pandemic and I couldn’t get back to the U.S. I had this image in my head of flying back home on the wings of a sparrow. We will create a video of this song at some point of a sparrow flying into a storm. In fact, a sparrow flew into my apartment the other day but then flew out quickly after realizing nothing was going on here.

GM: “Goodtimes” is the most accessible pop song on the collection and is my favorite because of that.

MM: I understand that. "Goodtimes" is an accessible pop song and I wanted to do it with just keyboards to prove the point that you can still create songs which would have been Top 40 hits in a prior era, perhaps by Loverboy. I haven’t written a song like that in a long time. It is probably the most positive song on the album as well. 

“‘Goodtimes’ is an accessible pop song and I wanted to do it with just keyboards to prove the point that you can still create songs which would have been Top 40 hits in a prior era, perhaps by Loverboy.” – Mark Mangold, Keys

  

GM: In terms of positive, like an anthem, “Raise Your Head (Sky)” qualifies for that. I can picture that song in a live setting.

MM: Maybe in a football field. We’ll be promoting this song and “Goodtimes” with radio stations, hopefully getting some attention for the band. Jake and I did the album with a lot of Facetiming and Zooming, with Jake being in Gothenburg, over five hours away, locked up there while I was locked up here in Stockholm, the two biggest cities in Sweden. Gothenburg is where all the guys from Cyhra are from as well. Thank you and Goldmine for always covering my music. My next project will be with James Christian from House of Lords, so I look forward to sharing that with you too, when it is ready. Thank you again.

   

Related Links:

Goldmine Shop includes Sonny & Cher

Goldmine Cher Kennedy Center Honors flip sides

lisamcclowry.com

The Beat Goes On show

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides interview with Carl Giammarese 2019

carlgiammarese.com

thebuckinghams.com

locallix.com

Goldmine Mark Mangold 2019 interview including Cher

facebook.com/mark.mangold

Cargo Records Keys

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides now in its eighth year

goldminemag.com/columns/fabulous-flip-sides