everything you always wanted to know about HEART...

Posted by Brad Schelden, September 16, 2007 04:00pm | Post a Comment
I remember when I was like 13 some friends of mine rented "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)" by Woody Allen. They were really disappointed and told me not to bother watching it. I think they thought it was really gonna be all the things they always wanted to know and I am sure they were not familiar with the humor of Woody Allen. I sort of think music and its history is sort of like sex. Everyone pretends to know everything about it and nobody ever wants to ask questions about it. So they remain in the dark about certain bands or styles of music simply because they are afraid to askabout it. I have always been the opposite of this. I love asking people about music and I don't pretend to know about things I do not know about it. I feel like Heart is also one of those bands that most people secretly like. Or maybe I just love them so much that I assume everyone likes them at least a little bit. The great Ann Wilson (who is the lead singer of Heart) has just released a solo album this week. This is her first solo album! It is called "Hope & Glory." It is all covers and features a lot of guests on the album. Nancy Wilson, Wynonna Judd, Alison Krauss, Rufus Wainwright, Elton John, K.D. Lang, & Gretchen Wilson all appear on the album. She covers songs by Pink Floyd, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Creedence, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon. It is for sure worth a listen. I am not really saying you won't ever want to take it out of your CD player and you probably will not even want to put it on your IPOD. But the girl deserves your love and respect. This lady has been at it for a long time now and has had a quite a musical career. So I thought I would break down all the Ann Wilson and Heart albums for you. Just in case you were afraid to ask...

Dreamboat Annie (1976)
Ann and Nancy Wilson grew up in a military family and eventually ended up in Seattle. They joined up with the all male group "Army" which later changed its name to White Heart and then just Heart. They were sort of like the Fleetwood Mac of Seattle. The original band was made up of Steve Fossen and Roger and Mike Fisher and Ann and Nancy Wilson. Ann was dating Mike and Nancy was dating Roger. They moved to Vancouver and recorded what become their amazing debut "Dreamboat Annie." The album was released on Mushroom Records and included "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man." Female Fronted rock bands like Heart did not exist in the 70's. At least bands that sounded like Led Zeppelin

Little Queen (1977)
Heart signed with Portrait, which was part of CBS. They had already recorded "Magazine" for Mushroom who decided to release it at the same time that Portrait released their much better album "Little Queen." While rumors were going around that the Wilson sisters were both lesbian lovers and witches, there were also label disputes about the two albums. Much of their early imagery feature both Ann And Nancy in suggestive poses. The Cover to Little Queen does make them look a bit like renaisance fair witches. Little Queen featured "Barracuda" which you can still hear being played in clubs and on jukeboxes around the country to this day. These first two late 70s albums gave Heart a fairly large following and remain two of my favorites.
Magazine (1978)

Heart agreed to redo some of the songs on Magazine but probably did not want it released at all. It seems their first label sort of forced them to allow them to release it after a court battle. The album was originally released to radio but it was pulled and then released officially in 1978. The album did not sell as well as the previous two albums and didn't really have a hit on it. I love this album artwork and am still looking for a t-shirt with this print on it. However this album   remains the forgettable album of their early work. You can really tell that they were not very into this album. The album featured "Heartless" and "Without You."

Dog & Butterfly (1978)
This would be Heart's fourth album but the last with the original line up. It would also be their last album of the 70's. They followed this album with a huge tour and bounced back from the weak performance of the last album. "Dog & Butterfly" and "Straight On" were both hit singles. The album remained on the charts for 36 weeks. But like the last album only peaked at number 17. The album was much tighter and more organized than Magazine. However, like Magazine, none of the songs remain classics of the Band. While "Straight On" remains a great song and "Dog & Butterfly" a nice little ballad, they are not the sort of songs you hear on the radio or at weddings or bar mitzvahs.

Bebe Le Strange (1980)
This remains one of my favorite album covers. They decided to go with an awesome shot of the two ladies for their first album of the 80s instead of the 70s art of the last two. The album peaked at number 5 in the charts. It featured "Silver Wheels" and "Even It Up." Heart basically has 2 great periods. They have their great 70s Led Zeppelin rock period. And then they have their 80s soft rock huge comeback period . This was sort of their awkward middle point. They were trying to fit into the new sounds of the punk and new wave of the 80s but they were still very much a 70s band. "Even It Up" is a great song but really could have been on one of the earlier albums.

Private Audition (1982)
This album fits in perfectly with the last album. They still had not developed into what would become the "80s Heart." The album doesn't feature any memorable songs. They would see big changes with a new line up and new sound with their next album. The album featured the forgettable single "This Man Is Mine." The album was still sort of a 70s Heart album but not nearly as strong as the first couple. The album peaked at number 25. This album could have easily been their last album and they would have faded into obscurity. Or just would have always been know as an 70s band. But like Jefferson Airplane, Heart was slowly changing. Their Starship period was right around the corner.

Passionworks (1983)
This was really their first "80s" album and their last for Epic. The next album with Capitol would show the world the new sound of Heart. But this was definitely the beginning. The album featured the ballads "How Can I Refuse" and "Allies." Allies was written by Jonathan Cain for Journey and could have easily been a Journey song. Heart was really finding their place in the 80s. The hard rock of their early albums was quickly disappearing. The 80s was all about the power ballad and this album had a couple. But it was not until the next album that the new sound of Heart was fully developed. You can easily view the transition by just glancing at the cover art. They were still a bit restrained on this album. But not on the next.

Heart (1985)
Heart had a new label for their self titled eighth album. But they also clearly had a new look for the this album. They were not hiding from the 80s but embracing their new MTV 80s ballad style. Heart was obviously making a mainstream 80s album. But they really had no choice. Ann Wilson had already recorded the huge hit "Almost Paradise" with Mike Reno from Loverboy. The song was on the Footloose soundtrack. This new album featured the massive hits "What About Love," "Never," "These Dreams," "Nothin' At All," and "If Looks Could Kill. Heart was a completely new band. But they had come back with one of the most popular albums of the 80s. The album went all the way to number 1 and spent 92 weeks on the charts.

Bad Animals (1987)
In 1986 Nancy Wilson married journalist and film maker Cameron Crowe. Heart had found a new new audience and had a hugely successful album with "Heart." They clearly did not want to upset their new fans and wanted to create another similar album. They accomplished this with Bad Animals. The album featured "Alone, "Who Will You Run To," and "There's the Girl."  The album went to number 2 on the charts. The old Heart had obviously been replaced. There was no going back after the last album. I have seen a couple of amazing drag performances of "Alone" that make it impossible to hear that song without thinking of them. This would be the last official album of the 80s.

Brigade (1990)
In 1989, Ann Wilson recorded her second big duet. This time with Robin Zander from Cheap Trick. The song was "Surrender To Me." Heart continued with their 80s power ballad love songs right into the 90s. This would also be the last successful Heart album. The album featured the hits "Wild Child," "I Didn't Want To Need You," "Stranded," "Secret," and "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You." The album reached number 3 on the charts. "All I Wanna Do" became the bands most unlikely controversial song. While being there most mainstream song, it dealt with the sexual relations a woman and a hitchhiker. This album is like one big long rock ballad. Heart had perfected the ballad and knew how to make a hit album.

Desire Walks On (1993)
In 1991 Heart released the live album "Rock The House Live." It was recorded on the Brigade Tour. Ann and Nancy also created the band "The Lovemongers" in between Heart albums. "Desire Walks On" reached number 39 in the charts. It featured "Will You Be There (In the Morning)," "Ring Them Bells," and  "Black on Black II." The music scene had changed a lot since the last Heart album. Rock ballads were not as popular as they once had been. Heart still managed to create a somewhat impressive "Heart" album but it just didn't have the power of older albums. It seems they tried to adapt to the changes a bit. The album did feature Layne Staley from Alice in Chains on backup  vocals on "Ring Them Bells."
Jupiter's Darling (2004)
In 1995 Heart released the acoustic album titled "The Road Home." They re-recorded all their hits for this album. But it would be another 10 years before Heart released another album of original material. Jupiter's Darling only charted at number 94. However, the album was actually a lot better than most people expected it to be. The album went back to their earlier more rock oriented sound. Heart clearly has had a huge impact on the history of rock music. Many people are still obsessed with the band and cherish all their songs. Even those 80s songs are still brilliant classic songs. Nancy Wilson has continued working in music scoring movies for her husband. I do really love myself some Heart and can't resist listening to them any chance I get.

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Nancy Wilson (6), Ann Wilson (2), Heart (8)