Litte Queen Heart - Little Queen (Epic) 1977

1.      Barracuda (4:23)
2.      Love Alive  (4:19)
3.      Sylvan Song [instrumental] (2:15)
4.      Dream of the Archer (4:31)
5.      Kick It Out (2:45)
6.      Little Queen (5:12)
7.      Treat Me Well  (3:24)
8.      Say Hello (3:37)
9.      Cry to Me (2:51)
10.     Go On Cry  (5:56)
11.  To Long A Time [demo] (3:33)
12.  Stairway to Heaven [live] (9:20)

"Little Queen" was Heart's second studio album and their first on a major label. They left Mushroom Records, with whom they released their first LP, and signed with Portrait Records. The album was hugely successful and produced one of their most popular hit songs, "Barracuda". The song is about as heavy and hard hitting as Heart got. Decades later and the song is still a regular player on rock radio across the globe. "Kick It Out" is another hard rocker and fan favorite. However, "Little Queen" is not a couple singles with a bunch of filler stuffed around them. "Little Queen" is a solid rock 'n' roll record from beginning to end. Despite the fact that "Barracuda" and "Kick It Out" are heavy rockers "Little Queen" is not a 70's heavy metal album by any stretch. Much of "Little Queen" consists of folk-influenced, acoustic-oriented rock such as "Treat Me Well" and "Cry to Me." "Dream of the Archer" has an acoustic Zep-vibe. The entire album is very earthy sounding, something that would disappear as the band entered the 80's and moved more towards glossy pop and big-hair hard rock. Vocalist Ann Wilson, who also performs flute and some keyboards on the album, has one of the most beautiful voices ever. Whether she is belting out a heavy rocker like "Barracuda" or singing along to something more acoustic and folksy, her voice is perfect. To many Heart fans, "Little Queen" is the quintessential Heart record, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree. It's one of those all time classic rock and roll records.

I always found the story behind "Barracuda" somewhat interesting. As the story goes, a reporter made a comment, backstage after a live appearance, that the sisters were sex partners. He made the statement based on a sexy ad that the band's former record company placed in Rolling Stone magazine. In retaliation and to relieve here anger, Ann returned to her hotel room and wrote the song "Barracuda". Who was the idiot who suggested that these two sisters were sexual lovers? Idiot!

Two bonus tracks are included with the remastered CD including a live cover of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", a band that obviously had a lot of influence on Heart. The other track, To Long A Time is an early demo from 1976 of "Live Alive".

Voyages Voyages Voyages
Heart - Private Audition/Passion Works
(BGO) 1982/1983

1. City's Burning (3:22)
3. Perfect Stranger (3:52)
4. Private Audition (3:21)
5. Angels (2:59)
6. This Man Is Mine (3:02)
7. The Situation (4:17)
8. Hey Darlin Darlin (4:00)
9. One Word (4:32)
10. Fast Times (4:03)
11. America (2:34)

1. How Can I Refuse (3:54)
2. Blue Guitar (3:58)
3. Johnny Moon (4:03)
4. Sleep Alone (4:15)
5. Together Now (3:56)
6. Allies (4:41)
7. (Beat By) Jealousy (3:24)
8. Heavy Heart (3:52)
9. Love Mistake (3:30)
10. Language Of Love (3:39)
11. Ambush (3:17)

I've always considered these two Heart albums to be transitional albums. The glossy 80's were in full swing and the 70's Zeppelin hard rock sound was falling by the wayside.

"Private Audition" was the sixth studio album released by Heart, released in 1982. With "Private Audition" Heart moved towards a more polished radio-friendly sound, yet not to the extent they would in a few years. Here there is a mix of new and old that works quite well. Hard rock songs like "City's Burning" and "The Situation" would easily have fit on past records, whereas the single "This Man Is Mine" features a more streamlined pop sound. Either way vocalist Ann Wilson's incredibly sexy voice works. She is, without a doubt, the reason that this band is so endearing. The single "This Man is Mine" actually scored the band a hit and helped keep the album on the U.S. Billboard 200 for an incredible fourteen weeks. It also marked the last Heart album to feature the longtime rhythm section of Mike DeRosier (drums) and Steve Fossen (bass), who left after the recording of the album and were replaced by Denny Carmassi and Mark Andes.

"Passion Works" continues to mix together the band's hard rock past and 80's pop, moving closer to the pop sound that will soon dominate the band's sound. There is no doubt that the band is clearly in transtion here. The album features a new rhythm section consisting of Mark Andes (bass) and Denny Carmassi (drums). Heart's organic style of rock 'n roll has been replaced with a sound dominated by synths. Still, I find "Passionworks" to be a constantly good release from beginning to end and one of the Heart albums that I have listened to the most over the years.

"How Can I Refuse" opens the album up on an upbeat note. "Johnny Moon" is one of my all time favorite Heart tracks. I suppose it would be labeled a ballad, but it's very bluesy and sort of dark. However, what brings the song to life is the outstanding vocal performance of Ann Wilson. The melodic "Together Now" is a bit like "Love Alive" from Little Queen and a predecessor of "R.S.V.P." from Bad Animals. "Allies" is a melodic, piano driven song with a big, sing-along chorus. "(Beat By) Jealousy" recalls the hard rock of the past while "Heavy Heart" is a mid-paced rocker with some blues influences felt throughout. Next to "Johnny Moon", "Love Mistake" is my next favorite track from the album. This Nancy Wilson penned song is also sung by the more sweet-voiced sister. Whereas Ann has a sexy, powerhouse voice, Nancy's voice is much more delicate and works well for this melancholy ballad.

Overall, these two albums are both forgotten gems in the Heart catalog. They are forgotten amongst the more organic hard rock of the band's 70's catalog and the far more glossy, pop albums "Heart" and "Bad Animals".

The BGO 2-CD remastered re-issue has a 24-page insert with a lengthy biography, photos and lyrics.

Heart Heart (Capitol) 1985

1. If Looks Could Kill (3:40)
2. What About Love (3:40)
3. Never (4:04)
4. These Dreams (4:13)
5. The Wolf (4:02)
6. All Eyes (3:54)
7. Nobody Home (4:07)
8. Nothin' At All (4:07)
9. What He Don't Know (3:40)
10. Shell Shock (3:43)

Heart's 1985 self-titled album was their eighth studio release and saw the band jumping fully into the 80's pop sound. Gone was the organic, earthy rock 'n' roll of the past, replaced with Ron Nevison's glossy, high-end, keyboard/synth production. The album was a huge success garnering the band several hits and staying on the charts for nearly two years. (92 weeks on Billboard.) Sales reached quintuple platinum and the band finally achieved their first number one hit with the sappy ballad "These Dreams". However, the album could be basically released as a "best of" all by itself as "If Looks Could Kill", "What About Love", "Never", and "Nothin' at All" were all big hits as well. As usual Ann Wilson's powerhouse vocals were at the forefront of the music. However, Nancy's subtle voice graced "These Dreams". Her voice is quite different from Ann's. On "These Dreams" she pushes herself to the limit and nearly cracks at some of the highest moments, which adds a bit of charisma to her sound. My favorite song is the albums only real hard rocker, "The Wolf". This song should have been released as a single, if it wasn't. It's a fantastic rocker, with those sexy vocals and some heavy guitars. "Shell Shock" is also a song that flirts with pop metal and is the other hard rocker in the group. The thin 80's production robs these two songs of some of their power, but that's generally true of anything Nevison produced during this era, in my opinion. (See Kiss' "Crazy Nights", Europe "Out of this World" or Ozzy's "Ultimate Sin"). In the past Nevison had produced such powerhouse albums from UFO "Obsession", "Lights Out" and one of the greatest live albums of all time "Strangers in the Night". Despite the band's move to pop and the glossy production, I grew up with this record, so it has a certain charm and a nostalgic attraction.

Bad Animals Heart  - Bad Animals (Capitol) 1987
1.      Who Will You Run To (4:05)
2.      Alone (3:38)
3.      There's The Girl (3:50)
4.      I Want You So Bad (4:21)
5.      Wait For an Answer (4:31)
6.      Bad Animals (4:54)
7.      You Ain't So Tough (4:05)
8.      Strangers of the Heart (3:41)
9.      Easy Target (3:58)
10.     RSVP (3:37)

"Bad Animals" continues in the same slick pop rock mode as their 1985 self titled release. Unfortunately the more organic hard rock that the band had done so well in the 70's and early 80's is now completely replace by outside songwriters, slick production, studio tricks, and keyboard overkill. Of course this is all brought about by producer Ron Nevison who would go on to ruin Kiss' "Crazy Nights" with the same keyboard heavy production and outside songwriters in search for that all important big radio hit single. The rock and roll is just polished away leaving radio friendly pop in it's wake. Still, there is no denying that Ann Wilson pulls it off. Whether singing heavy rock and roll, pop or tender ballads, she has the voice to make it all work.

The big hit here was "Alone", a moving and timeless ball that is brought to life by an outstanding and incredibly sex vocal performance by Ann Wilson. It is perhaps one of Heart's most well known and loved songs. "Who Will You Run To" is a Diane Warren-penned track and is actually one of the more rocking songs on the album. Holly Knight gives Heart another wonderful single with the keyboard rocker "There's The Girl", sung by Nancy Wilson, who gave Heart their first #1 hit, "These Dreams." The tile track is one of the few songs here that is actually written by the band. Ann really belts out this song. "You Ain't So Tough" is typical, keyboard drenched 1980's radio fodder. Had this song shown up on a Bon Jovi album no one would have been the wiser. "Easy Target" is the most organic song on the album being driven by an acoustic guitar, some funky bass an undeniably hooky chorus. The song wasn't a big hit, but could have been.

There's no denying that "Bad Animals" was a successful album in the 80's. It's a highly enjoyable album despite the fact that the Wilson sister only wrote three of the ten songs presented. However it would seem that the band sacrificed song craft and a bit of their identity to outside songwriters, glossy production and radio singles.

Brigade Heart - Brigade (Capitol) 1990

1.     Wild Child (4:31)
2.     All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You (5:11)
3.     Secret (4:14)
4.     Tall-Dark-Handsome Stranger (4:04)
5.     I Didn't Want to Need You (4:10)
6.     The Night (4:54)
7.     Fallen from Grace (4:07)
8.     Under the Sky (2:53)
9.     Cruel Nights (2:53)
10.   Stranded (3:59)
11.   Call of the Wild (4:06)
12.   I Want Your World to Turn (4:36)
13.   I Love You (3:50)

Much like "Heart" (1985) and "Bad Animals" (1987), "Brigade" is packed full of songs mostly written by outside songwriters. The material definitely falls on the side of slick pop rock and lacks the organic feel that made Heart's early albums so endearing. However, I quite enjoy this album. A big part of the reason I enjoy this is Ann Wilson's passionate and downright sexy vocals. There's also something to be said about radio not killing this record. Unlike albums like their two previous albums, the songs on "Brigade" haven't been crammed down our throats by excessive radio play "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" and "Stranded" were the two singles from the album, both charting on the Adult Contemporary charts. However, neither have seen the repeated years of playing as some of Heart's other material.

Producer Richie Zito's approach is slick and glossy, but unlike Ron Nevison, he manages to maintain some of the rough edges so as not to completely strip the band of their rock and roll roots. "Call of the Wild" is a straight forward rock song that recalls the more classic material and features some slide guitar and mouth harp. "The Night" is pure guitar-heavy, hard rock. "Stranded", "I Didn't Want to Need You" and "Secret" are the album's ballads. All are endearing and perfectly suited for Wilson's gorgeous vocals.

"Brigade" was the last of a trilogy of albums that would find Heart at their commercial peak. The highligh
t is most certainly Ann Wilson's souring vocal performance. She is one of the most recognizable voices in rock and "Brigade" is a testimony of her power and finesse.

Desire Walks On Heart - Desire Walks On (Capitol) 1993

1.     Desire [intro] (:17)
2.     Black on Black II (3:51)
3.     Back to Avalon (3:41)
4.     The Woman in Me (4:00)
5.     Rage (5:01)
6.     In Walks the Night (6:01)
7.     My Crazy Head (4:31)
8.     Ring Them Bells (3:49)
9.     Will You Be There (In the Morning) (4:29)
10.   Voodoo Doll (4:52)
11.   Anything is Possible (5:00)
12.   Avalon (Reprise)  (:31)
13.   Desire Walk On (5:04)

"Desire Walks On" is touted as a "return to roots" album for Heart. In fact, it's actually a combination of the organic rock of the 70's and the 80's pop-era of the band. The sound is still big but not as slick and pop oriented. The biggest difference, however, is that the Ann and Nancy Wilson are the primary songwriters again, as opposed to hordes of outside songwriters. Though those pop albums were hugely successful in their time, I much prefer the more straight-forward rock approach to the slick pop-rock.

After a short intro, the album opens up with "Black on Black", a great hard rocker. Likewise "Rage" is a hard rocker, this time with a bit of a Zeppelin vibe. Ann Wilson's attempts to spew some venom on this song, giving a slightly gritty vocal performance. Ann sounds great whether singing this type of heavy rock and roll, or the more melodic material. "Back to Avalon" is the type of song that Heart does so well. It's an upbeat song that blends those passionate vocals with acoustic guitars and a sing-along chorus. This song and "Black on Black" sound like classic Heart to me. The follow-up track, "The Woman In Me", is a ballad and sounds closer to the sound on "Bad Animals" and "Heart". "In Walks the Night" is a ballad as well, but I much prefer this type of ballad to the previous. The song describes an encompassing, emotionally emptiness remembering a former loved one. A cover of Bob Dylan's "Ring Them Bells" from his 1989 "Oh Mercy" album is a highlight track. The song features guest vocals from Alice In Chains' Layne Staley.

"Desire Walks On" is a solid and cohesive album, flowing well from beginning to end. Though it yielded several singles and was fairly successful for the band, it's a relatively forgotten gem in the Heart catalog. (The album peaked at number #48 on the Billboard charts in the U.S.) I actually like it better than their more popular 80's albums. "Desire Walks On" was Heart’s last studio album for 11 years.

Jupiters Darling Heart - Jupiter's Darling (Sovereign Artists) 2004

1.      Make Me Listen (3:57)
2.      Oldest Story In The World (3:53)
3.      Things (2:45)
4.      Perfect Goodbye (3:37)
5.      Enough (3:25)
6.      Move On (5:00)
7.      I Need The Rain (4:20)
8.      I Give Up (3:50)
9.      Vainglorious (3:57)
10.     No Other Love (4:02)
11.     Led To One (2:56)
12.     Down The Nile (4:49)
13.     I'm Fine (2:59)
14.     Fallen Ones (3:42)
15.     Lost Angel (6:56)
16.     Hello Moonglow (1:56)

With the 80's long gone, Heart have now returned to a more organic sound that is reminiscent of their early years, without sounding dated. The band mix in a few more modern elements. After a signature acoustic opening track the band switch modes with "Oldest Story in the World", a tasty hard rocker that is thankfully devoid of keyboards. Ann and Nancy have seriously channeled their inner Page/Plant on this one. When they go for a folksy sound it's Zep III, when they rock hard it's Zep II. Tracks like "I'm Fine", "Fallen Ones" and "Things" quite deliberately pay homage to Page, Plant & Co. I am not saying that Heart sound like some Zep clone, but the influence is certainly there. "Move On" has a beefy guitar tone and a killer groove. This song has a more modern flare, but doesn't sound out of place on the album. The song is followed up with another folksy acoustic track. titled "I Need the Rain", again recalling the classic Heart sound. As usual, Ann Wilson's voice is absolutely stunning, giving life to each and every song. She's lost nothing with age. Together with her sister Nancy on guitar and host of guest musicians, the band sound fresh while still retaining their classic vibe. Without worry for radio singles and slick production, Heart give a performance that reminds me of their classic "Little Queen" album. "Jupiter's Darling" rocks!

Red Velvet Car Heart - Red Velvet Car (Legacy) 2010

1.      There You Go (3:36)
2.      WTF (3:26)
3.      Red Velvet Car (2:59)
4.      Queen City (4:16)
5.      Hey You (4:14)
6.      Wheels          (3:06)
7.      Saffronia's Mark (3:53)
8.      Death Valley (3:53)
9.      Sunflower  (3:42)
10.     Sand  (4:07)

Ann and Nancy Wilson are still kicking it nearly four decades after the band was formed. "Red Velvet Car" is the bands thirteenth studio album. This album kicks off with an acoustic-guitar based song that rocks. "There You Go" has that organic hard rock sound that made Heart so endearing in the 70's. It's hard to explain how an acoustic guitar can 'rock', but somehow Heart pulls it off. The song is intense and melodic and showcases some of that great Ann-Nancy family harmony. Personally, I prefer this warmer, classic sound to the big, slick, pop, 80's sound. The follow-up song rocks harder and has a definite Led Zeppelin vibe, mixing the acoustic and electric guitars. Once again, the overall sound is very organic. The title track is pure blues, with a very sexy vibe thanks to Ann Wilson's vocal performance. Ann has lost nothing with age. Her voice is quite beautiful, but she can also add a bit of grit when the song calls for it. She is one of the best rock and roll vocalist of all time in my opinion, her performance on "Red Velvet Car" adding to her long legacy.  "Queen City" is an interesting autobiographical song and a tribute to the band's hometown of Seattle, WA, USA. One of the albums standout tracks, however, is one of it's mellowest. "Hey You" starts off as a sweet, acoustic, country ballad but breaks into a more upbeat rock song with a big 60's influence. Nancy Wilson's
voice is melancholy bringing out the story of a broken heart. Without going into a complete song by song review, "Red Velvet Car" is the most compelling Heart album in a long time. Gone are all signs of the glossy 80's pop, replaced with a warm, earthiness and real rock and roll.

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