Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Heart attack

Sunday's car boot sale was hot, dusty and very busy.  There didn't seem to be much vinyl at all, until I reached a pitch belonging to a guy selling off a small chunk of his 3000+ record collection for £1 a pop.  I left with a pile of LPs, none of which I've had time to listen to, as in my free time I've been immersing myself in two new vinyl releases; Bloc Party's new album "Four" and Yeasayer's latest release "Fragrant World" on double gatefold coloured vinyl - yum!

However, I have got round to playing two more albums from the previous weekend's boot sale -  both cost £3 and both are by US hard-rockers Heart.

"Whooaaaah, Bodyfor-orm!"
Heart were, and still are, fronted by sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson.  My own memories of them are from their hugely successful 80s comeback, with power ballads such as "These Dreams" and the stonking "Alone", whose soaring crescendo I'm convinced was ripped off by ad execs in the early 90s for the Bodyform adverts.

I kind of knew that they were a Big Deal in the US, but their earlier work was unknown to me.  When I saw the albums for sale I was keen to hear them as I'd recently read an article in Classic Rock magazine's 1977 special about the complicated legal dispute surrounding Heart and their music at the time.

Heart - Magazine (1978)
Magazine was originally released in 1977 by Heart's former record company Mushroom Records as a collection of live and demo tracks, as well as a b-side.

This 1978 copy of Magazine is a completely re-vamped version of the album put out by Mushroom.  Songs were subject to re-recording and remixing, and sequenced differently until they resembled Heart's original vision as much as possible.

As Heart technically still owed their former employers an album this seemed the best way to meet their contractual obligations.

It's a polished mix of hard rock and ballads, only marred by the inclusion of a bored-sounding cover of "Without You".  After the way they were treated by Mushroom it's not surprising that they couldn't summon up much enthusiasm at this point, especially with a security guard employed at the studio to make sure they didn't nick the master tapes.

At the time of Mushroom's initial release of Magazine, Heart had just released their second album proper on Portrait Records - Little Queen:

Heart - Little Queen (1977)
Little Queen was finished in record time, with over 40% of the album recorded over the space of a very, very busy weekend before Mushroom could apply for a court order preventing them from doing so.

Like Magazine, it's also an album of tight rockers and romantic slowies, but it also has a mildly medieval minstrel/folk tinge to some of the acoustic ballads, the intention being that tracks like "Dream of the Archer" and "Sylvan Song" be their answer to Led Zep's "Battle of Evermore".

Both albums are a little too well polished for my taste, but I can't deny Heart's talents and ability to rock.  Although Ann takes the lead vocal on the majority of songs, both sisters have incredible voices, giving Heart an unmistakable sound.  On balance I prefer Little Queen to Magazine, but they're both well worth a listen.  Here they are on Spotify:

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