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Heart - Heart (1985)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by TheWhalerfan, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. TheWhalerfan

    TheWhalerfan Lovus My Avatarus

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    General Info

    Released: July 6, 1985
    Recorded: January–April 1985
    Genre: Hard Rock, AOR
    Label: Capitol
    Producer: Ron Nevison

    The Band

    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

    Track List

    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


    Clips

    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.
     
  2. Slip'nn2Darkness

    Slip'nn2Darkness Sub Sonic Soul Shaker

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    Ah.. The one Heart album in my collection that I don't play much.. Probably because the songs on it are not my favorites for some reason.
    :confused:
     
  3. TheWhalerfan

    TheWhalerfan Lovus My Avatarus

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    Most true rock fans don't like this album, and I don't blame them. After what they had created previously it screams sell out, trading dignity for dollars. Even the Wilson's say they hate it, although I am sure they were thrilled with the huge paychecks that allowed them to keep partying hard (in an interview Nancy said between the cost of the videos and their drug abuse, Heart came back to Seattle after their tour ended in 1986 broke!) over the next few years. This album has also been played to death, and is now being used in stupid commercials..ugh.

    Anyway, as I tried to mumble in my review conclusion, comparing this album to any previous Heart album will make the s/t offering look bad. Old Heart was full of experimentation, blended elements of folk and hard rock music, and was written by the band for for the band. Post '84 Heart was a totally different group, similar in name and three personnel members only, designed, formulated, controlled, and processed to create hits. Because of this difference I have to look at this album as a separate entity from their earlier work, or I will just shred it. As an overall Heart album I don't like it, but taken alone I think it was very well done, if that makes sense. I tried to explain this better in my review, but was falling asleep at the keys so some of the writing isn't very clear.

    Oddly enough even though I do like this album and rated it at an 8/10, I don't like Bad Animals or Brigade, which are in the same style. One record of candy cane fluff I can stomach, but three no way. Time to turn the guitars back up, ladies.
    Geez, another long winded post. Sorry for rambling on so much..sometimes I can't stop. :bonk:
     
  4. gcczep

    gcczep Ever Onward...

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    Well done review and VERY honest one too. Good historical bits mixed in... "Never" is my favorite track on this set as well.
     
  5. cyerob

    cyerob Rock Princess

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    These Dreams and Alone are the songs that I love from this band. :)
     
  6. FireandWater

    FireandWater Family Man

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    Good review. There are a few good tunes from this album that I don't mind. Although, I'm like a lot that play more of their earlier stuff.
     
  7. METALPRIEST

    METALPRIEST Senior Member

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    Great review..I dig this album with If Looks Could Kill being my favorite track


    :grinthumb
     
  8. Rockperson

    Rockperson Senior Member

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    Very nice review, I remember when this album came out and a massive rejuvenation for Heart, some great songs on this, wasn`t there a couple of versions of this where Frankie Sullivan (Survivor) played solo on certain tracks (Nothin` At All) springs to mind.
     
  9. Lynch

    Lynch Happiness is a chocolate chip cookie

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    Totally solid writeup man.... and one hell of a good album!
     
  10. ANF

    ANF Senior Member

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    Re: Heart - Heart (self titled)

    I feel that this album doesn't deserve the bad rap it gets. I prefer 70's Heart (Dreamboat is my fave album of theirs) but there isn't a bad song to be heard on this album either. Much much better than Bad Animals and Brigade.
     

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