Listen: Barracuda / Heart HeartB.mp3
Heart had the bad timing of critical mass appeal around ’77, just as punk was our religion. Talk about a jinx. Heart were helium coated, corporate, Lee Abrams AOR gack. They were literally nauseating. And loathed. Well, not by the masses, but those of us who felt we were in the know, with proper taste.
In hindsight, they were fascinating, for every sonic reason listed above. Now their glistening studio perfection is bizarrely intoxicating, addictive even, very much like the Roy Thomas Baker Queen productions and almost alien.
As with most of the big bands of the day, the ones radio rammed down our throats (REO Speedwagon, Journey, The Doobie Brothers), I always ended up having a guilty pleasure or two by each and every one. Heart were no exception.
Listen: Nothin’ At All / Heart Heart.mp3
I absolutely loved ‘Nothin’ At All’, right down to the apostrophy in it’s title, mainstream turned up to eleven production and all. Then there’s the picture on the sleeve. A styling faux pas representing everything that had gone horribly wrong with American AOR radio. Indeed, it exemplified why it eroded music as an important part of US culture. But I loved that single. Still do – more than ever actually.
Somewhere in the mid/late 90′s, there was a benefit at The Ritz, after it’s relocation uptown to where Studio 54 was once housed. Don’t recall the cause, but the headliners were Joey Ramone and the Wilson sisters from Heart. They had a side project at that time: The Lovemongers. And that’s who played on this occasion.
I went along with Joe. He had a bunch of friends backing him that night, playing some classics by other bands as well as a few from The Ramones, and was kinda in an ‘everyone come along for a laugh and a few beers’ mood.
Heart’s original road manager, Kelly Curtis, who went on to manage Pearl Jam, was with Ann and Nancy. Kelly and I became great friends in the early 90′s. He helped me out in life when I really needed it – in a big way and I’m always thrilled to see him, particularly as this was very unexpected (I think he was passing through town that day – or something). So he invited me into to meet Nancy and Ann.
By now, my venom for their music had long past, and it was a pleasure to sit and talk with these two incredibly lovely people. At one point, trying to make an extreme point, I quantified it with, “but don’t mind me, I love Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich”. Ann sits straight up and exclaims ‘I love Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich too’. Instant fast friends. We dug into songs, details and how we first heard them – as fans do. Somewhere in the conversation mix, I mention my other, at that time, obsession: Sunbeam mixers. Nancy’s guitar tech, in the room at that moment, whips round and says “You’re into Sunbeam – me too”. Ann says “He really is – show him”. So this guy takes off his T shirt, turns his back to me and proudly displays a ton of Sunbeam toaster tattoos across his torso. All the classic models.
Yes, hard to believe but every word of the above is true.