Classic Rewind: Heart
This week's classic rock artist is Heart. Over the past week I have been listening to the Wilson sisters a lot, especially their 1987 album "Bad Animals" and "Dreamboat Annie" From 1976.
Heart got their start in 1963 in Seattle, Washington formed by bassist Steve Fossen and brothers Roger Fisher (guitar/mandolin) and Mike Fisher (producer and sound engineer). The group went by the names Army and White Heart before settling on just Heart in the early 1970s. Ann Wilson joined the group in 1970. Romance sprang up between her and Mike, and she came along when they moved to Vancouver to avoid the Vietnam draft some years later.
Soon after the move, Ann's sister Nancy Wilson joined the group. She became romantically involved with Mike's brother, Roger. The band gained a following in Canada and was signed to the small Canadian label Mushroom, which issued their debut album, "Dreamboat Annie", in 1976. "Dreamboat Annie" was recorded with new members guitarist/keyboardist Howard Leese, and drummer Michael Derosier. The album included Heart's first U.S. chart entry, "Crazy on You," which peaked at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Magic Man," the second single from the album reached #9 on the charts and "Dreamboat Annie," the third single rose to #42.
In 1977, Heart moved to CBS affiliate Portrait. This decision didn't go over well with Mushroom owner Shelly Siegel, and a legal battle ensued. After the smoke cleared, Heart's second album "Little Queen" was released on Portrait in 1977. It was a substantial hit, but wasn't the enormous hit their debut album was. Only one single, "Barracuda," from the album made the Top 40 this time around. Curiously, the single, "Heartless," from the unfinished LP "Magazine" released by Mushroom charted higher than Little Queen's other two singles.
Heart's third official album, "Dog and Butterfly", came out the next year. It only managed to reach #17 on the Billboard 200, and showed that Heart's success was declining (at least for the time being). The Fisher/Wilson romances came to an end following the album, and Roger left the group.
In 1980, Bebe Le Strange was released. In 1982, after releasing their 6th album "Private Audition", Fossen and Derosier left the group, and were replaced by ex-Spirit and Firefall bassist Mark Andes and former Gamma drummer Denny Carmassi.
After releasing "Passionworks" in 1983 and switching to Capitol Records, Heart broke in to the pop scene with a self-titled album in 1985 that would be their biggest, resulting in four Top Ten singles, "What About Love?," "Never," "These Dreams," and "Nothin' at All." This album marked a significant turning point for the band as this was the first album the band employed outside songwriters for (only 3 of the songs, and none of the hits, were written by band members) and they went for a much more synthesizer-heavy commercial radio friendly sound. As well as establishing their mainstream success, the album also established the style that would take Heart through the '80s and into the early 90's, a mix of power ballads and pop rock. Further albums in this vein followed in the form of Bad Animals (which netted the band three more Top Ten singles including their second number one record "Alone") and Brigade.
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