Lovus My Avatarus
- May 1, 2011
- Reaction score
- Saskatchewan, Canada
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Released: July 6, 1985
Recorded: January–April 1985
Genre: Hard Rock, AOR
Producer: Ron Nevison
Ann Wilson – lead & backing vocals
Nancy Wilson – lead & backing vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, mandolin
Howard Leese – electric guitar, keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals
Mark Andes – bass guitar
Denny Carmassi – drums
1. "If Looks Could Kill" (Jack Conrad, Beau Garrett) – 3:42
2. "What About Love" (Brian Allen, Sheron Alton, Jim Vallance) – 3:41
3. "Never" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson, Greg Bloch, Holly Knight) – 4:07
4. "These Dreams" (Martin Page, Bernie Taupin) – 4:15
5. "The Wolf" (A.& N. Wilson, Leese, Andes, Carmassi, Ennis) – 4:03
6. "All Eyes" (A. & N. Wilson, Bloch, Knight) – 3:55
7. "Nobody Home" (A. & N. Wilson, Ennis) – 4:07
8. "Nothin' at All" (Mark Mueller) – 4:13
9. "What He Don't Know" (A. & N. Wilson, Ennis) – 3:41
10. "Shell Shock" (A. & N. Wilson, Leese, Andes, Carmassi, Ennis) – 3:42
By 1984 Heart was in serious trouble. Two poor selling albums in a row and fading fan support at concerts led their label to drop them, as they were declared dinosaurs from the arena-rock era of the late 70's. At the last minute Capitol Records appeared, who obviously realized there might still be potential in the band, offering the Wilson's a last chance at the expense of the creative freedom they had enjoyed over the last few albums. Writers were brought in to assist the Wilson's, and producer Ron Nevison provided the guidance needed to reconstruct Heart as a contemporary top-40 hit making machine. The gamble by Capitol paid off as the self-titled album would spend 92 weeks on the U.S. Billboard 200 (eventually hitting #1), and easily became the groups largest selling record as sales hit quintuple platinum.
If Looks Could Kill - Heart albums always start off great, and this number continues that tradition. An angry song about infidelity, the lyrics are interesting and Ann's voice perfectly compliments the guitars and hard rock rhythm. My only complaint is that it is just a little too soft. If the album cut was recorded the way they played it live around 1990 or so, with the keyboards turned down, guitars up, and the tempo increased, this would be one of the best post 70's Heart songs.
What About Love Long before the Swiffer commercial ruined it, this was a good Heart song with a slightly cheesy title. Sure it is a power ballad, but it features a good drum track, decently distorted guitars, nice solo, and that patented Wilson harmony in the chorus. Ann does her best work on the album here, especially when she gets loud in the last 40 seconds - pure gold.
Never - It didn't take long for this to become my favorite song off the album. While nothing special lyrically, the instruments shine here with good drumming and a decent bass line providing enough variation to make Never stand out. Of course without strong vocals it wouldn't be a Heart song, and Ann's voice, now showing a hint of maturity at age 35, once again provides exceptional power and clarity. A good effort by all on this one.
These Dreams - After a decade of releasing music, Heart finally achieved #1 on the charts with this ballad. Bernie Taupin provided the lyrics for a slightly ill Nancy to sing, the cracking in her voice adding a vulnerability that suits the song perfectly. You have heard it a a million times, and for good reason - it is very well done.
The Wolf - With four good songs in a row offered, you knew there eventually had to be a bad one, and The Wolf qualifies. While the opening guitar, drum and bass combination sounds decent through the first couple verses, the way Ann sings "the wolf" in the chorus, like she is howling or something, is intolerable. That alone is enough to make me not like this song.
All Eyes - If you like generic 80's pop rock with drippy lyrics about how hot someone is making the singer, this song if for you. Sounds like something off a bad movie soundtrack...boring and stuffed with cheese.
Nobody Home - Softer song about a failing relationship, Nobody home offers decent lyrics, excellent vocals, and a good guitar solo, but is neutered by too many keyboards and too little noise. What should have sounded similar to an Ozzy ballad instead reminds the listener of Roxette. Potential for a good song is there, but needs reworking.
Nothin' at All One of the 'big four' singles from this album, Nothin' at All is surprisingly easy to listen to for what is basically a power ballad. The lyrics aren't annoying, and the overall sound is just hard enough to keep the song from becoming a sleep aid. Good solo by Leese.
What He Don't Know - While not quite as bad as "All Eyes", WHDT is pretty much forgettable, sounding too much like other soft rock songs of the time. Would make a decent modern country rock tune, and that isn't what I am looking for when listening to Heart.
Shell Shock - Similar to "The Wolf", this song begins with a hard rock approach, sounds good through the first couple verses, then falls apart in the chorus under poor lyrics and irritating vocals.
Despite the fact that over the years I have been flamed, insulted, argued with, and accused of having no taste whatsoever, I still maintain that for the most part this is a pretty good record. Like most other fans I wish they had continued on a harder rock path and created Little Queen II instead of the big hair power ballads, but I can't change that so I have to give my opinion on what was released in 1985.
Decent writing, catchy rhythms, and Ann's stellar voice at its peak combine to make half of the album an enjoyable listen, but unlike previous offerings there are no 'hidden gems' here. All the best songs were released as a singles, while the rest was basically filler.
All in all a good effort under the circumstances. 8/10
There were two versions of Never released...one rock oriented, the other softened considerably by the overuse of keyboards. This video features the harder version.
extra clips of interest:
Ever wonder what Ann is like in the studio? Is she actually as good as TWF would imply? Check out this classic clip and judge for yourself...quality is crap but the footage is priceless.
MP edit: Video removed from youtube
What About Love was written and recorded by Toronto a few years before the Wilson's covered it. Is this version better? Check this out and compare.