Classic Heart Redone
Bruce Von Stiers
Some artists have music that they wished they could have done differently, or make changes to songs to fit how they originally wanted them to sound. Most of them don't have the luxury of being able to that. But when that does happen, the results are varied. But if the fan base is strong enough, the changes are well received. And the fan base seems to increase if the material is good enough.
Heart is a band that has a monstrous fan base. To date, they have sold over 35 million records. From their debut with Dreamboat Annie to Fanatic, released four years ago, they have recorded fifteen albums.
This year finds Heart with a brand new album out. The title of the album is Beautiful Broken. It is being released on Concord Records.
Ann Wilson is the lead vocalist for Heart. Her sister, Nancy Wilson, plays rhythm guitar and other instruments, although Nancy does provide lead vocals on a few songs. The bass player is Dan Rothchild, who also produced this album. The lead guitar work is done by Craig Bartock and the drummer is Ben Smith. An added bonus to the musical personnel on the album was Paul Buckmaster. He did string arrangements on several of the songs.
The reason I mentioned making changes to songs is that is what the album mostly contains. The album has ten songs and seven of those had been previously recorded. Ann and Nancy picked songs from their albums Bebe Le Strange, Private Audition, Fanatic and Passionworks. But the songs that were on previous albums are different now. Some of the changes are subtle and some songs have significant changes. Although some purists will be dismayed by the changes, I think that the majority of the fans will embrace the way the songs sound now.
One Word is from the album Private Audition. It is a bit mellower, with a slightly earthier tone than the first version.
The title track, Beautiful Broken, was an extra on the band's last album, Fanatic. This time out, there is an added attraction. James Hetfield of Metallica joins Ann on vocals for the song. What was already a really great rock song in the tradition of classic Heart, was taken to the next level with the duet.
Sweet Darlin' is a song from the album Bebe le Strange. This version has a lot more depth than the original. That is in part to the excellent vocals and in part to the string arrangements of Paul Buckmaster.
Ann States that when they recorded City's Burning for the album, Private Audition, it was done at a faster pace and in a key other than she would have liked. So, with this new album, Ann had an opportunity to record the song how she originally wanted it. Now, instead of an all-out rock tour-de-force, the song slows down quite a bit. It has more of a deep, bluesy rock effect. There is at least one word change in the lyrics. You'll know it when you hear the new version. I wasn't real sure I liked the new version. But after listening to it a second time, I got what Ann was trying to do with the song.
Down On Me was first on the album Bebe Le Strange. Like the first version, this one has an intense, aching rock blues attitude. The vocals here prove that Ann still has it. And the guitar in the song provides a great backdrop for those vocals. There is also some terrific string music in the song that adds to the ambiance.
One Word was originally done on the Private Auditions album. It is a beautiful, mellow song.
Johnny Moon was from the album Passionworks. This version seems to have a bit more seduction in the vocals. The song still kicks it out as a cool love song.
Language of Love is the other song that came from the Passionworks album. This version is a little more sedate. It has more of a mild pop tone to it.
Heaven is one of the original songs on the album. It begins slowly with an almost Gaelic, ethereal tone. Then it transcends into a cool rock ballad.
The second original song is I Jump. It has a cool, sedate rock intro with great guitar. Then things slow down into kind of an alt rock stance then it moves into music that slides between easy doings and mild Black Sabbath guitar licks. There is some cool string music thrown is as well.
The final original song is Two. It was written by R & B star Ne-Yo. Nancy had heard the song on a demo and asked the artist if they could record it for the album. It is a beautiful, soft and gentle love ballad. It is by far my favorite song on the album.
The press material for the album has quotes from both Ann and Nancy about why they chose to change the songs. Ann felt that the songs were never given the opportunity to ..reach their full development. Nancy went further by saying that they were ..Poetic pieces lost in translation.. and that We wanted to drape them in velvet, and make them shine. And I think that pretty much what the album does. It takes some of the classic Heart music and makes it fresh and vibrant. This is not another greatest hits album rehashed. It is indeed an opportunity to let both existing Heart fans and listeners new to the band to hear the songs the way that Ann and Nancy Wilson actually wanted them to sound like.
Beautiful Broken is out now. You can grab a copy at your favorite online or traditional music retailer.
The official web site for Heart is http://www.heart-music.com/ They also have a Facebook band page at https://www.facebook.com/heart
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© 2016 Bruce E Von Stiers