Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Heart - Greatest Hits

In the grand scheme of music there are very few bands my born again mother and I agree on, or enjoy, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Elton John, Chris De Burgh, and Billy Joel. Heart is another, but we have two different points of view. My mom's Heart, is the Heart that goes with four out of the five bands listed before. My Heart goes more with Alice, but that even seems wrong. My Heart is the band that sounds like they told Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith to check their balls at the door, because Ann Wilson just blew Robert Plant and Steven Tyler off the stage. Let me be very clear, Heart is not a chick band for mom's. Heart is a Rock band that will kick your ass and have you begging for more.

Heart Greatest Hits was released in 1998 and reflects the years of 1976-1983. These are clearly the best years of Heart if you are a purist, and who am I to argue. I wish there would have been one or two of the later songs, but those were released on a follow up companion album I don't recall ever coming across.

If you are like I was when I first bought this album (never owned any Heart) this is a great starter spot. It's a strong collection, that gets you hooked on great North American Pacific Coast music, before Grunge went and gave it all a bad name.

The album opens with Strong, Strong Wind, and this is a really crappy way to open an album. I suggest you skip it. However, in a mix it's not as bad. I still don't care for it. It's the Heart that my mom likes.

Magic Man is awesome.

Have you ever picked up Guitar Hero II, then you know how wicked Crazy On You is musically.

I like Dreamboat Annie, it's a very pretty song, and the string arrangements are fantastic. However, this is not the Heart I enjoy listening to cranked up and firing out of my speakers. This is more of a sitting in a meadow and chilling on a nice picnic music. Mix it in with a little Yellow Brick Road Elton John, and Ziggy Stardust Bowie.

The very first song I ever heard from Heart that I can clearly remember as being Heart was Barracuda. I did not know that there was another Heart song I had already fallen in love when I heard this one. Ann Wilson's voice gives me mental orgasms everytime I here this song. That's before I get to the music, which has Steve Harris of Iron Maiden's trademark high speed gallop, years before Steve was abusing the hell out of it.

Little Queen is just full of all kinds of sexy. This song just swoons, sways, and sashes (sashay?) around the dance floor, without even giving off the sense of dancing. This is a prime example of why Heart is one of the best Rock bands I have ever heard hands down. This song shows exactly why Heart is the underrated and completely overlooked American answer to Led Zeppelin.

To carry on that thought I give you the next song, Kick It Out. This is their Black Dog or Rock And Roll. A fast paced ruckus, and the only song on here under three minutes. It sounds like it came from the hallowed halls of Chuck Berry or Jerry Lee Lewis, then was cranked through a wall of speakers.

It gets very accoustic on Love Alive, but this is not the type of accoustic that has you thinking, "Shit, more girly crap." This is the type of accoustic work that Robert Plant, Ritchie Blackmore, and Sting all started pursuing before the turn of the millenium, and still haven't had half the success with. Nancy Wilson, works an accoustic guitar like very few others. You want to talk about an under rated guitarist. Because this woman is a woman playing accoustic she will never get the admirration she deserves.

Heartless is what a rock song should be. Ann Wilson steps up to the plate and let's it all out. "Heartless-Heartless! Never out of control / Heartless-Heartless! Sin in the name of rock and roll / Heartless-Heartless! He thinks it's so cool to be cold / Never realize the way love dies when you crucify it's soul". I know you're thinking it's about her getting screwed over, but I like to think of it as her doing the screwing over.

It gets funky in a really good way. Straight On, has both a straight on rock approach, but there's this great underlying funk that just blows my mind. This song is also ten kinds of sexy. That was something that musicians in the 70's really understood. The concept of writing and arranging music that was sexy, not just words, which nowadays border more on pornographic. I really miss the erotic tongue in cheek sometimes.

Dog & Butterfly is the only Heart album my mom ever owned. I was never able to bring myself to listen to it, because of the title track. This was one of those songs she really liked and I had little to no use for. This is one of the songs that's a little more female friendly, like a ballad on a Nickelback album.

At this point I also want to mention there are only three songs on this collection that Ann and Nancy Wilson didn't write. The first track, Strong, Strong Wind, and two songs still coming up. Every other song has both of their names on them, and is some cases only their names. In fact three of my favourite songs on this album was writen exclusively by just the two of them; Crazy On You, Heartless, and Magic Man. Barracuda has a couple other writers, and Kick it Out was written exclusively by Ann. Sue Ennis, a Seattle songwriter, is also credited on half of the songs or more.

Even It Up is just one of those songs that I love because of how honest it is. There is nothing wrong with a woman going on about wanting a guy to even it up. "I took you down over the tracks when / you wanted some sin / I brought you satin and herbs from / the places I been / Now something tells me you're / going to use me again / You think you can lay down the how and / the where and the when / Even it up, even it up, even it up / Even it up, even it up, even it up / I don't want to bum it all / But this axe she got to fall / Even it / Even it up". Not to mention it's just a really good rock song.

I'm not sure what was going on when they decided to come up with Bebe Le Strange, but wow did they knock it out of the park. This sounds like one of those sixties French Girl Pop songs played through a stack of Marshalls. Just fantasticly done, and I can't get over it.

Tell It Like It Is is a song written by George Davis and Lee Diamond and originally recorded by Aaron Neville, as a single in 1966. I think Heart should have left it back there. It's like listening to the Guns N' Roses version of Since You've Been Gone.

There's a very heavy doowoop kind of feel to This Man Is Mine. I like it, like I like most songs that have the Golden Oldies Motown kind of feel. This one always makes me think of Cher's Shoop Shoop song. Not the type of stuff I typically care for, but that doesn't mean it's bad either.

How Can I Refuse is clearly an 80's song. I find it interesting that this song was released in 1983. I would say this track was actually a few years ahead of itself. The sound of the production on this song has a very DDD quality to it. If you come from the early days of CDs, you know that means that it was done completely digital, from recording to production. The first time I ever remember hearing that production sound was on Alice Cooper's Raise Your Hands And Yell and that was 1987.

The album finishes with a cover of Led Zeppelin's Rock And Roll (Live). One listen to this song, and you'll totally understand why I keep making references to Heart being the American version of Led Zeppelin. I'm sure there are Zep fans out there that are currently thinking that I have no clue what I'm talking about, but those are the same neandrathalls that still think Heart is a chick band.

By the end of my very first listen of this CD I considered myself a Heart fan. This album is very much a gateway drug, that will lead to the wanting of other more pure versions of Heart songs.

9/10 - content

9/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

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