Category Archives: Heart

Heart – Fanatic [Review]

Heart – Fanatic
(2012, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)

1. Fanatic
2. Dear Old America
3. Walkin’ Good
4. Skin and Bones
5. Million Miles
6. Pennsylvania
7. Mashallah
8. Rock Deep (Vancouver)
9. 59 Crunch
10. Corduroy Road

Band:
Ann Wilson – Lead Vocals, Flute, Backing Vocals
Nancy Wilson – Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals, Backing Vocals
Ric Markmann – Bass
Ben Smith – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Sarah McLachlan – Vocals, Backing Vocals
Ben Mink – Banjo, Guitar, Keyboards, Mandolin, Organ, Strings, Viola, Violin, Backing Vocals

Producer: Ben Mink

When I first saw the album cover, I thought maybe this was some forgotten late ’80s/early ’90s release or at least a low budget compilation. It’s a very bland cover, from the font to the B&W photo of Ann & Nancy, but I’m just being nit-picky.

Heart has had sort of a mini-comeback in the last few years. They’ve been touring successfully, their live shows are very good, Red Velvet Car received good reviews and debuted in the Billboard Top 10 (and has gone on to sell something like 100k copies, I think), they released a four-disc box set earlier this year and have released a memoir called Kicking & Screaming: A Story of Heart. They are also getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Keeping up with this flurry of activity, it was natural that only two years after Red Velvet Car they’d release a follow-up. Fanatic is said to be somewhat of a companion piece to the Wilson’s memoir, with each song being inspired by their personal lives & experiences.

I’ve seen mixed reviews for this album but then again I saw that for Red Velvet Car as well. Heart keeps doing their own thing while the rest of the world either wants them to return to their ’70s hard rock roots or their ’80s pop/rock style. They continue to do their own thing, though they are closer to their ’70s material than their ’80s work. I highly doubt we’ll ever hear a big slick commercial power ballad from them ever again. Instead, they’d rather give us acoustic-based melancholy songs.

But as I said, they actually rock out when they want to. “Fanatic”, “Dear Old America” and “Mashallah” retain that classic Zep-influenced Heart sound while remaining modern just like the previous album’s “WTF”. And “59 Crunch” sounds downright grungy at times. Must be something in that Seattle water. Personally, there are too many slow moments on this album for me, something that Red Velvet Car had but they pulled it off better on that album.

Overall, there’s a handful of good tracks here but I’m disappointed in comparison to their last release.

Highlights: “Fanatic”, “Dear Old America”, “Mashallah”, “59 Crunch”

http://www.heart-music.com
http://www.facebook.com/heart

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Heart – Red Velvet Car

Heart – Red Velvet Car (2010, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)

1. “There You Go” … 3:36
2. “WTF” … 3:26
3. “Red Velvet Car” … 2:59
4. “Queen City” … 4:16
5. “Hey You” … 4:13
6. “Wheels” … 3:06
7. “Safronia’s Mark” … 4:03
8. “Death Valley” … 3:55
9. “Sunflower” … 3:42
10. “Sand” … 4:07

Band:
Ann Wilson – Lead Vocals, Flute, Backing Vocals
Nancy Wilson – Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Mandolin, Autoharp, Dobro
Ric Markmann – Bass
Ben Smith –  Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Ben Mink – Guitar, Gypsy Fiddle, Viola, Lap Steel, Backing Vocals
Craig Bartock – Dobro

Producer: Ben Mink

Really missed the boat on this one last year when it was released. I liked “WTF” a lot but many reviews I read about this album said it was mellow and laid-back so I made it a low priority and then eventually forgot about it. Thankfully, seeing Heart perform with Def Leppard recently has reignited my interest in the band. Along with buying a few of their older albums, I also wanted to hear what Heart sounds like today and was able to pick this one up pretty cheap.

I was also under the impression that a good portion of this album featured some re-recordings, another reason I was turned off from this album. Turns out I was wrong. All but “Sand” are brand new. That song originally appeared on the Wilson sisters’ Lovemongers side-project album Whirlygig in 1997.

I gotta say Red Velvet Car stands strong as a worthy chapter in the band’s history. So many of these songs sound like classic (1970s) Heart. “WTF” is right up there as one of my favorite Heart songs and while “There You Go” is a bit too mid-tempo to kick off an album, I think, it too fits the “classic Heart” mold. So the album is a bit laid back but that’s not really unexpected from Heart. They’ve always had a folksy vibe and have never shied away from acoustic-based rock and both are apparent here. Oh, and the Zeppelin influence is still here as well. Just listen to “Wheels” and “Death Valley”.

It’s not so much that the songs are slow (well, except for “Sand”), most are mid-tempo, they just aren’t heavy. There’s no “Magic Man”, “Crazy On You”, “Straight On” or “Barracuda” but that’s okay because a good song is a good song. The Wilson sisters are accomplished singers, musicians and songwriters. They know how to write great songs whether they rock hard or not. Rolling Stone compared the mellow vibe to that of Dog & Butterfly and I have to agree. I think any fan of that album would enjoy Red Velvet Car a lot. In fact, any fan of ’70s Heart will enjoy this album.

Better late than never that I picked this one up. One of the better albums from 2010.

Highlights: “There You Go”, “WTF”, “Queen City”, “Hey You”, “Wheels”, “Death Valley”

http://www.facebook.com/heart
http://www.heart-music.com/

Buy ‘Red Velvet Car’ at Amazon.com

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