HomePosts Tagged "Heart"

Heart Tag

So you’re Nazareth—big-willied purveyors of Seventies cock rock. In your native Scotland and across the UK, you’re a sizeable hard rock presence—your singles and albums skirt just under the radar of mainstream success, but your fan base is loyal, and you make a decent enough living headlining theaters and hitting the arena circuit in Europe with blokes like Uriah Heep and Rory Gallagher. In the U.S., though, you’re a perennial second-tier act—a Scottish REO Speedwagon, if you will. In fact, once in Peoria, you even opened for REO Speedwagon. And Kevin Cronin made fun of your hair.

He was probably right. You’re not very attractive men. Only the guys in Blue Oyster Cult and the douchebags in Uriah Heep pull fewer chicks on the road. It’s one reason you love to tour with Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep; next to them, you are the golden gods you always imagine yourself being. If your wives back home ever find out, though, you’re done for.

This week we continue on with the letter H as we check out more great tunes from the ’80s that hit the Billboard rock charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.

Hawks
“It’s All Right, It’s O.K.” 1981, #32 (download)

Not The Hawks, which was the original name for the members of The Band, but a rock group from Iowa. “It’s All Right, It’s O.K.” was released on their Columbia records self-titled debut.

Ofra Haza
“Im Nin’Alu” 1988, Modern Rock #18 (download)

This is always one that kind of surprised me as it seems kind of odd that a song partially in Hebrew would have enough staying power on modern rock radio to actually chart but musically it fit right in with the times, so I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked.

“Im Nin’Alu” is a 17th century Hebrew poem that has been put to song on a few occasions but none more famously than by Haza. The song was originally all in Hebrew but she cut a version that went back and forth line-by-line between Hebrew and English and what you get here is the single edit of that which almost removes all the lyrics anyway.  Haza died in 2000 from AIDS.

Jeff Healey Band
“Confidence Man” 1988, #11 (download)
“See the Light” 1989, #33 (download)
“Roadhouse Blues” 1989, #29 (download)

Jeff Healey was a pretty great blues artist and although I’d rather have a little blues with my rock than rock with my blues like Healey provided, I can recognize his talent. I like “Angel Eyes” better than any of these tracks, but “See the Light” is a damn good tune as well. Both “Confidence Man” and “See the Light” come from his album called See the Light and “Roadhouse Blues” was of course from the Road House soundtrack in which Jeff was in, behind a screen getting bottles thrown at him. Classic.

For the kids of my generation, Heart was just another source of power ballads — sort of a slightly more hairsprayed and corseted version of Starship or Chicago — and when their jig was up, right around the time 1994’s Desire Walks On came out, it was sort of sad (fewer corsets always are) but also something of a relief (who needs to hear “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You” again? Ever?)

The truth of the matter, though, is that Heart was around long before “These Dreams” lit up the request lines; they were, in fact, one of the more entertaining (and groundbreaking) AOR acts of the ’70s. The Runaways received the biopic treatment this year, and they surely deserved it — but if the Runaways broke down the door for women with overdriven amps, Heart took that pungent, unstable fusion of rock & roll plus T&A and turned it into a reliable formula for minting platinum records. Between 1976 and 1980, the band sold more than seven million albums in the U.S. alone, and racked up eight Top 40 singles, including the FM classics “Crazy on You,” “Barracuda,” and “Magic Man.”

Heart’s commercial fortunes took a stumble in the early ’80s, but even during those years of high member turnover and low sales, the band never released anything as crappy as Chicago XIV or Starship’s Nuclear Furniture — and when Ann and Nancy Wilson decided to reinvent Heart as a pop radio hit factory for 1985’s Heart, they remembered to throw in a handful of old-school rockers (like “If Looks Could Kill”) alongside future adult contemporary standards like “What About Love,” “Never,” and “Nothin’ at All.” More importantly, even as they bought hits from outside songwriters like Diane Warren and Kelly & Steinberg, they never stopped writing solid material of their own — something many of their peers forgot.

During the summer of 1981, I picked up my first K-Tel album. I’m not sure where I got the money. Either I saved up — and by saving up I mean swiping nickels, dimes and quarters from my father’s dresser, a stealthy operation that took weeks to accomplish — or I actually convinced my mom to drive me to Gold Circle, our most frequent department store, and buy me High Voltage. It was the latest K-Tel compilation to be heavily advertised on television during commercial breaks for WKRP in Cincinnati reruns.  In the commercial, a bolt of lightning flashed across the screen, cutting then to quick clips from early music videos of the songs. As snippets played, all 13 (!) song titles from the album scrolled up the screen, while an announcer read them in a fast, booming DJ voice:

“You get… STYX! ‘Too Much Time on My Hands!’ Heart! Pat Benatar. Ed-DIE RABBITT ‘I Love a Rainy Night.’ KOOOL and the Gang. HALL. AND. OATES! And many more!”

Each time the announcer spat out the album title his voice would rise in excitement. HiGH VOLTAGE! That’s the way I remember it, anyway.

Last month we brought you an exclusive interview with Daryl Hall & John Oates, whose four-disc box set Do What You Want, Be What You Are arrives in nonexistent record stores today. Unfortunately, Oates’s legendary facial hair stayed silent throughout, even as its owner bristled at some of Hall’s answers. Now, in another Popdose exclusive, it breaks that silence (mainly so it can promote its J-Stache website and its videos on Funny or Die, but beggars can’t be choosers).

Is it true that you did both Wilson sisters at the same time but only after you finished a three-day four-way with Bananarama?

Carnie Wilson put a right angle on my dong, dude. No lie — I was north and south while me-will-willy was looking around the corner! I’d do it all over again given the opportunity. In fact, Carnie, call me, love. Let’s get twisted on fried foods, perks, and Arsenio Hall reruns. You know, see what happens. The ladies in Bananarama are into some strange stuff too. I’ve never been able to look at latex or eat oatmeal in the same way since. True story. (We meant Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, but we’ll take any gossip we can get. —Ed.)

Is it true what you sang about Italian girls, or was that just a marketing scheme?

Well, I did write the line “I eat so much pasta pasta, I am so full and yet so lonely.” The autonomy of art, man. Leave it there, homes.

Ian McLagan - Never Say NeverI’m not much of a believer in band reunions — they seldom result in any output that actually improves the band’s legacy, and often have just the opposite effect. Still, I was thrilled recently when rumors of a Faces reunion were all over the Internet. First of all, the Faces were always one of my favorite bands; second, despite the presence of future superstars Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, they never really got the shot that they deserved. Of course, a lot of that was of their own mischievous making. In many ways the world has come to see the Faces as the perennial scrappy underdogs.

Most of the Faces have gone on to solo careers, to one degree of success or another. Beloved bassist and songwriter Ronnie Lane died in 1997. None of them have been able to recreate the special vibe that a Faces album had, though; it was some sort of magic blend of carefree rock and roll, and cry in your beer pathos.

Faces (and Small Faces) keyboard player Ian McLagan became something of a journeyman, making brilliant contributions to records and tours by the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, and many, many others. He is one of the most respected and revered musicians in the world by his colleagues and his fans. He moved to Austin in 1994, where he formed the Bump Band, which includes bassist Mark Andes (Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne, Canned Heat, Heart), drummer Don Harvey (Martha Davis, Joe Ely, Charlie Sexton), and Joe Newcomb (Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Resentments, Beaver Nelson). The band released “Extra Live” in 2006.

On August 2, 2006, McLagan suffered a loss that would change his life substantially. His wife Kim was killed in a car accident near Austin. She was 57 years-old, and they had been married for 28 years. Kim had previously been married to Who drummer Keith Moon. McLagan hasn’t stopped playing though, far from it, and now he’s back with Never Say Never (00:02:59), a solo album by a former Faces member that finally captures the magic of the legendary band.

Last week in my intro I talked about De La Soul dropping their biggest hit song all the way down at track 20 on their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising (1989), and that got the wheels rolling on another topic — album length. I don’t know if there’s ever been some defined rule as to how many songs it takes or how long an album needs to run to be considered an LP as opposed to an EP, but even if unspoken rules have existed, they’ve certainly changed over the years. I don’t know what the ’60s and ’70s were like, but for at least the first few years of the ’80s eight songs seemed to be the minimum amount needed for a legitimate LP. I’m assuming that’s because eight normal-length songs fit the best onto a record without it losing too much quality. Then maybe by the mid-’80s, as CDs were gaining in popularity, it climbed to ten average-length songs, though even in ’86 Peter Gabriel’s So had nine tracks on the CD but only eight on the record. Then at some point it jumped again, but that’s where I lose track.

To me, a legit full-length record these days feels like 12 songs or more, and it’s felt that way for ages. But even that’s a struggle sometimes — all I remember hearing about Linkin Park records earlier in the decade is that people felt gipped because each album lasted only 35 minutes despite having 12 or 13 tracks. If a disc can hold 79-plus minutes and you can’t even fill half that amount with music, are you giving anyone their money’s worth? That’s not to say you have to fill all 79 minutes by including shit, but even though I’ve never listened to a Linkin Park record, I’m sure at least one or two tracks on each of their albums are filler (I’d like to say all 12, but to each his own — unless you like Nickelback), cutting down the amount of quality music to about half an hour.

Then of course track length comes into play. Something like 1981’s Circle of Love by Steve Miller has the ridiculous 16-minute “Macho City” taking up the entire second side of the disc. But even with only five tracks totaling 34 minutes, that’s a full-length album. If the total number of tracks was all that counted toward distinguishing what’s an LP or not, no doom/drone/sludge band would have released an LP. Take Sunn O)))’s White 1, for example — it only has three tracks but comes in at a whopping 59 minutes. No question that’s a full-length album. So who knows — maybe it just comes down to a general feeling these days. But if there were ever some set rules or even if someone can just give a legit time frame as to when the guidelines for album length started to increase, I’d love to hear it.