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This Weekend I Will Mostly Be Listening to…Dreamboat Annie by Heart August 6, 2016

Posted by guestposter in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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A very welcome guest This Weekend from Lamneth.

 

To get the cliché out of the way, there really are two Hearts. The first incarnation of the band most famous for the two Wilson sisters – singer Anne and guitarist Nancy, existed from the early seventies until 1982’s Private Audition album. Their debut, Dreamboat Annie from 1975, plays like a concept album – even if not conceived as such. The theme is broadly nautical (songs such as Soul of the Sea and the title track – all three (!) versions of it on the album) and the sound shifts between an easygoing Sunday afternoon jaunt on the river (for the ballads) with the odd tidal shift (for the rockers). Nowhere is this contrast stronger then in Anne Wilson’s voice – Karen Carpenter one minute, Robert Plant the next and the music behind her also exists in a sweet spot somewhere between California singer-songwriter and the folk / blues rock of Zeppelin.

 

I say all that now, but when I bought the album in 1982 (reduced to £1.99 in Golden Discs on Grafton Street) I was disappointed. The one Heart song I’d heard by then was their epic rock opera of a track Mistral Wind from Dog & Butterfly, their fourth album. You’ve heard it too – even if you haven’t; seven minutes that starts softly with acoustic guitar and whispered vocals and becomes all hell broken loose by the end. Dreamboat Annie sounded sort of twee by comparison, and sixteen year old me was having issues singing along lyrics about women looking for men, but what the hell, it was cheap and the girls looked great on the cover.

 

I’ve heard most Heart albums since, and what I love about this one now, but misread as quaint then, is the musical naivety that is often only found on a debut album, where a band are still finding out what they actually are, so aren’t trapped by who they think they should be – if that makes any sense. (I feel the same way about Boy in the U2 catalogue, for what it’s worth)

 

Magic Man, Dreamboat Annie and Crazy On You are the tracks that make it onto the many Heart compilations, but there’s no real filler here – rocker Sing Child and ballad How Deep It Goes are also standouts.

 

Dreamboat Annie –

Crazy on You –

Magic Man –

How Deep It Goes –

Recorded for an independent label, the album went platinum and Heart soon morphed into a stadium-filling headline act. There’s good stuff throughout all of their albums after, but, for me, they never caught lightning in a bottle as consistently across one album as they do here.

 

At the start of the 1980’s the sales dwindled, and the band started losing founding members, other than the Wilsons and lead guitarist Howard Leese. A change of label led to collaborations with outside writers and the embrace of MTV. Incarnation two was born.

 

The results put them back in the charts with some of the best power ballads of the era. They begrudge it now as a sell-out, and there’s no doubt that other acts would have had hits with the same songs, but Anne’s voice did at least give the likes of Alone and What About Love their own stamp and a link to the earlier albums.

 

What About Love – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE5GGMhmo-M

Their unabashed love for all things Zeppelin has never abated and they performed a great rendition of Stairway to Heaven for an audience including Page, Plant and John Paul Jones (who also produced an unplugged live album for Heart in the nineties) in 2012.

 

Stairway to Heaven – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFxOaDeJmXk

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