Deep Album Cuts Vol. 72: Heart

Earlier this month, Ann and Nancy Wilson released their band Heart's 16th studio album, Beautiful Broken. It's an odd little collection that includes a duet with Metallica's James Hetfield, a song co-written with Ne-Yo, and re-recordings of six songs from the band's early '80s albums. But then, they've had a long, impressive career, and I guess they've earned the right to do what they want. And comparing the new recordings to the original versions made me want to delve deeper into their catalog. I've always loved their '70s hits had been meaning to check out their albums, especially after seeing them live for the first time about a year ago.

Heart Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Sing Child
2. White Lightning And Wine
3. Soul Of The Sea
4. Say Hello
5. Go On Cry
6. Love Alive
7. Devil Delight
8. Mistral Wind
9. Sweet Darlin'
10. Down On Me
11. City's Burning
12. One Word
13. Johnny Moon
14. Language Of Love
15. All Eyes
16. Bad Animals
17. The Night

Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from Dreamboat Annie (1975)
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 from Little Queen (1977)
Track 7 from Magazine (1978)
Track 8 from Dog And Butterfly (1978)
Tracks 9 and 10 from Bebe le Strange (1980)
Tracks 11 and 12 from Private Audition (1982)
Tracks 13 and 14 from Passionworks (1983)
Track 15 from Heart (1985)
Track 16 from Bad Animals (1987)
Track 17 from Brigade (1990)

Heart's career arc reminds me of another band I featured in this series recently, Cheap Trick: both bands sold millions in the late '70s, experienced a commercial downturn in the early '80s, and then came back big after the industry started feeding them big crossover power ballads from outside songwriters, and then they kind of went back to writing their own songs and plugging along as a legacy act from the '90s onward.

It's the songs from the three early '80s albums that were re-recorded for the new album, Beautiful Broken -- you can hear the originals on tracks 9 through 14 on this playlist. It's interesting that they chose to revisit deep cuts and unsuccessful singles from the only records from their first decade or so that didn't go platinum. Those albums haven't, as far as I can tell, become cult favorites or anything in the last few decades, and they don't feature the band's classic lineup with Roger Fisher on lead guitar. The songs aren't bad, though. In fact the biggest problem with Beautiful Broken is that I don't think they actually improved on those songs for the most part -- the '80s records sound perfectly fine, but modern hard rock production is pretty flat by comparison, and to be honest, Ann Wilson's voice isn't what it used to be.

I included stuff from the band's late '80s and early '90s albums since they obviously contained some of Heart's biggest Hot 100 hits. The Wilsons, and their longtime co-writer Sue Ennis, continued writing songs on some of those records even as outside writers provided most of the big singles, and Sammy Hagar helped out on a couple of good deep cuts including "The Night." It was cool to hear the title track to Bad Animals, which inspired the name of the Wilsons' Seattle studio Bad Animals Studio, which I grew up seeing in the liner notes of a lot of big grunge era albums by Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and others.

Those '70s albums hold up, though. Clearly, Heart's biggest influence is Led Zeppelin, and they really drank deep from that inspiration, not just grabbing a couple recognizable elements. And that means that Heart albums tended to have the same kind of mix of electric hard rock and mellow acoustic material as Zep. I prefer Heart's rockers, so in some ways it's a bummer to put on the band's albums and not find a wealth of songs that go as hard as "Barracuda." But there are some really lovely tracks like "Song of the Sea" that make me grateful for the variety. And "Sing Child" and "Devil Delight" are great rockers.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 72: Fantasia
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