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by Justin Farrar

October 17, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Heart

by Justin Farrar  |  October 17, 2012

With the release of Heart's new album, Fanatic, now is the perfect time to cast Rhapsody's Artist Spotlight upon the classic-rock icons.

Very few of hard rock's titans from the '70s have proven as resilient as Ann and Nancy Wilson. Outside of Rush and possibly Cheap Trick, who else from that mighty decade still releases music as excellent and exciting as the sisters' recent string of records? Along with its predecessors Jupiters Darling and Red Velvet Car, Fanatic represents some of the very best music of their storied career, right up there with the group's most revered releases, from Little Queen and Bebe le Strange to Dreamboat Annie and Magazine.

This, of course, doesn't mean Heart have never committed an artistic misstep. Throughout the '80s, while chasing MTV fame with a string of power ballads that are as syrupy as they are overblown, the group more or less turned their backs on what made them great to begin with: a striking fusion of hippie folk-rock, Zeppelin-inspired slasher-riffs and wiry funk grooves that was as snarling and groovy as it was dreamy and soaring. After all, the glossy pomp of "These Dreams" and "Alone" is a far cry from the slinky viciousness that underpins "Barracuda," "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man."

But what ultimately matters is how Heart fought back while slowly rebuilding their reputation. Rehab commenced in the mid-'90s with The Lovemongers, the Wilsons' part-time side project that represented a return to their folk music roots. After a live version of Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" appeared on the famed Singles soundtrack in '92 (a critical inclusion that endeared them to the then-burgeoning "alternative nation"), they released The Road Home, a live set produced by legendary Zep bassist John Paul Jones.

The Wilsons' Lovemongers phase lasted until the release of 2004's exceptional Jupiters Darling, which at the time was Heart's first electric album in a decade. And the sisters Wilson have been (once again) ablaze with the spirit of hard rock ever since.

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