Friday, October 19, 2012

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominee--Heart

     The band Heart revolved around sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, although the genesis of the band began before the Beatles hit American shores...

     Bassist Steve Fossen, along with brothers Roger and Mike Fischer began a group called The Army back in 1963. The group went through several names before settling on Heart in the early 70's. This is also the time that Ann Wilson was brought in on vocals.
     Wilson had lived in Southern California and Taiwan before her dad's retirement from the Marines, where they settled in Seattle. She auditioned for the spot in the band in 1970. Mike, who had fled to Vancouver to escape the draft came down to see the band perform and began a romantic relationship with Ann. She persuaded the rest of the band to rejoin Mike in Canada, which they did. The city became home base for them for much of the rest of the decade.
      Nancy, who is four years younger, finished high school then began college. She quit and joined the band in 1974. Soon afterward she began a relationship with Roger. It was shortly after becoming a member that Mike quit to work behind the scenes. John Hannah (keys) and Brian Johnstone (drums) were brought in to fill out the sound.
     By 1975, the group had a healthy following in and around Vancouver. A demo had been made with the help of producer Mike Flicker, who eventually would produce their first five albums, and keyboardist Howard Leese who would become a full member of the band as Hannah and Johnstone had left the group. Michael Derosier became the drummer. 
     The resulting album, "Dreamboat Annie" would be picked up by Mushroom Records in 1976.  After quickly selling 30,000 units in Canada, it was released in the US, where the singles, "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man" both reached the top 40 and the group was on it's way. From early on, it was obvious that the girls had a musical vision of their own, but it was just as obvious that Robert Plant was a large influence on Ann. The album mixed hard hitting rock, with folk ballads (which was also a staple of middle Led Zep influence as well).
     From 1976 to 1980, the band released a series of top flight albums, "Little Queen" (1977), and "Dog and Butterfly" (1978) completed the trio of albums that are essential for anyone who is wanting to get into the groups output. The end of this period ended on a bit of a sour note as the romantic relationship between the Fischer brother and Wilson sisters ended, and a couple of months later the guys left the band. Roger's guitar work would especially be missed as they entered a period that was a bit unfocused. None of the albums, "Bebe le Strange" (1980), "Private Audition" (1982), or "Passionworks" (1983), were bad, just not up to the standards of the late 70's. Denny Carmassi (drums) and Mark Andes (bass) where brought in before the recording of "Passionworks" which would begin to show the new direction the band was taking and which would come to full fruition in 1985.
     1985 brought them to Capitol records from Epic and with that a change in direction. The songs on "Heart" (1985), "Bad Animals" (1987), and "Brigade" (1990),  had the band turn up the amps and head straight into arena rock territory. This along with a renewed focus on the sister's sexuality in time to take advantage of MTV propelled them to a comeback of sorts which would take them to the end of the decade.
     The singles would pretty much peter out after 1990, however their album output has been strong especially over the last 10 years with top notch albums, "Jupiters Darling" (2004), "Red Velvet Car" (2010), and "Fanatic" (2012). We finish up with two songs from the past, and one from the present.



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