The debut album from Heart, released in September 1975 for all Canadian music lovers via Mushroom Records. It then got a U.S and international release in 1976.
The band for the album was made up of Ann Wilson on lead vocals, Nancy Wilson on electric and acoustic guitars, Roger Fisher on electric guitars, Howard Leese is on a lot of different instruments, Steve Fossen on bass and Mike Derosier on drums for two songs, with Dave Wilson, Duris Maxwell and Kat Hendriske providing drums on the other tracks.
Mike Flicker is producing. As Heart got bigger so did Flicker’s career.
But the Heart story doesn’t just start in 1975. It goes back almost a decade.
In 1967, bassist Steve Fossen formed the band as The Army, along with Roger Fisher on guitar, Don Wilhelm on guitar/keyboards and lead vocals, and Ray Schaefer on drums.
In 1969, the band went through some line-up changes and took on a new name, Hocus Pocus. Between this period they took on the name “White Heart”.
By 1973, the band was Ann Wilson on vocals, Steve Fossen on bass, Roger Fisher on guitars, Brian Johnstone on drums, and John Hannah on keyboards and they had taken the name Heart.
Ann’s sister Nancy joined circa 73/74 and the sisters quickly established themselves as the main songwriters.
A simple groove and Ann Wilson’s iconic voice. It’s almost psychedelic and progressive.
Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child)
It’s a dreamy acoustic arpeggio riff to begin with, before it morphs into some serious acoustic folk rock playing from Nancy Wilson.
Crazy On You
Press play to hear the riff and the infectious vocal melody. This is what Hook City sounds like.
Soul Of The Sea
Another dreamy washy acoustic guitar riff forms the centrepiece. Almost “Albatross” like. The structure of verse and chorus is not here. It feels like verses and various gateways to progressive like movements, more mood and atmospheric like than a million notes per minute.
Flamenco like acoustic arpeggios are its foundation.
White Lightning And Wine
Its greasy and sleazy blues.
Love Me Like Music (I’ll Be Your Song)
Country folk rock. Even in the title.
Press play to hear the intro riff.
How Deep It Goes
More dreamy/smoking weed acoustic folk rock.
Dreamboat Annie – Reprise
It continues with the dreamy acoustic guitars. Campfire folk rock.
In the end, the standout track here is “Crazy On You”. It’s melodic rock at its best. Then press play on “Magic Man” for its rock groove and vocal melody. If you are still interested, crank the blues rock of “White Lightning and Wine” and finish it off with the dreamy trilogy suite of “Dreamboat Annie” songs.
In Australia, the album went Gold. In Canada in went 2x Platinum and in the U.S it went Platinum.
The success of the album indirectly led to a break between the band and label.
The band tried to renegotiate their royalty rate to be more in keeping with what they thought a platinum band should be earning. Mushroom wasn’t interested so instead of paying the band more in royalties they used the money earned from the band to take out a full-page ad in Rolling Stone, to mock the band, with a special dig to Ann and Nancy Wilson.
Not long after the ad appeared, a radio promoter asked Ann about her lover; he was referring to Nancy, thus implying that the sisters were incestuous lesbian lovers. The encounter infuriated Ann who went back to her hotel and wrote the words to what became one of Heart’s signature songs, “Barracuda”.
The band then signed with Portrait Records.
But Mushroom wasn’t done yet. It’s a big no-no in label land to let an act leave and make money with another label. So Mushroom said that the band was still bound to the contract, which meant they had to deliver two more albums. The band refused and Mushroom released “Magazine” with incomplete tracks, studio outtakes and live material and a disclaimer on the cover in 1977.
The band got a federal injunction to stop distribution of the 1977 edition of “Magazine”. Most of the initial 50,000 pressings were recalled from stores. The court eventually decided that the band could sign with Portrait, however they did owe Mushroom a second album. The band returned to the studio to re-record, remix, edit, and re-sequence the recordings.
“Magazine” was re-released in 1978 and sold a million copies in less than a month.
Mushroom Records went bankrupt by 1980 although an Australian arm of Mushroom did survive well into the 2000’s.