Capitol, 1985


REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Don’t call it a comeback. All Heart did after the disastrous Passionworks of 1983 was switch labels, repackage themselves and come up with slightly better material two years later. This self-titled release, their eighth album, has enough pluses than minuses to make it worth buying, but only by the skin of their teeth.

Arena-sized, ‘80s-style rock has not dated well. One listen to the unnecessarily pompous “If Looks Could Kill” will confirm that statement. The first single, “What About Love,” has a great intro and as power ballads go, it’s one of the best. Even better is the glowing slow song “These Dreams,” which bears the distinction of being Heart’s very first song to go all the way to #1. In 1986, it shared chart company with the likes of many other sound-alikes: “Sara” by Starship, “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin, “Live To Tell” by Madonna and “Human” by The Human League -- all of which also made it to the #1 spot.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Two other singles on Heart, which I bought as 45’s back in the day, are “Never” and “Nothin’ At All.” The former is a song that I have grown to hate, while the latter still sounds fresh today. The track “All Eyes” would have been more memorable if it only had better lyrics. An opening line like “Hot shot boy, hand on your hip / You’re wasting your time, givin’ me lip” made me scratch my head wondering why on Earth the band went with songwriter Holly Knight over their own members Ann and Nancy Wilson, who were far superior. Oh well, at least that one never got played on the radio. How embarrassing might that have been?

By the time we get to the last couple of tunes on this album, we pretty much give up expecting a song to really stand out as being something truly unique. And, unfortunately, Heart’s 1987 follow-up Bad Animals is just more of the same. Sure, they may have achieved their aim -- to return to the Billboard chart and become radio fixtures -- but with so many songs becoming one big blur, just how many of their albums do we still really want to play today? My guess is not many.

For two sisters fronting their own rock band, Ann and Nancy do deserve to be known as trailblazers for other female rockers, though they are still few and far between, especially now that rap is dominating the music landscape. But back in the early days, Heart was a truly magical and creative force to be reckoned with. Nobody could do what they could do with a mandolin. No female vocalist had the raw power that Ann Wilson had. And both sisters weren’t too bad on the eyes either. The first two albums, Dreamboat Annie and Little Queen, capture the real essence of what this band should be remembered for. Sorry friends, but the ‘70s Heart is what I choose to remember and hold close to my heart.

Rating: C

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© 2009 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.