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Heart: Little Queen/Dog & Butterfly/Bebe Le Strange (Reissues)

Some debate ensued between a few Sea of Tranquility scribes regarding the worthiness of Heart on this esteemed site. But, as guitarist Nancy Wilson writes in the liner notes to the remastered and expanded editions of 1977's Little Queen, 1978's Dog & Butterfly and 1980's Bebe Le Strange, "Here, you can catch a ride on the gypsy horse, dance around a fire, drink from a sylvan spring in a Tolkien forest or contemplate the progress of sand through your fingers." That sure as hell sounds like prog to us!

Indeed, Heart's second, third and fourth albums all released within five years of the band's heavyweight debut Dreamboat Annie fluctuate between borderline metal, organic pop, acoustic instrumentals, lyrical flights of fancy and straight-ahead hard rock. All five styles, incidentally, can be heard (in that order) on the first five songs of Little Queen: "Barracuda," "Love Alive," "Sylvan Song," "Dream of the Archer" and "Kick It Out." Forget the fact that "Kick It Out" sounds like a sideways, brass-free version of "Even It Up," which would appear three years later on Bebe Le Strange. It still rocks with a feistiness the band would surrender in later years. Bonus tracks include a very respectful rendition of "Stairway to Heaven," with singer Ann Wilson seemingly channeling the voice and spirit of Robert Plant, plus "Too Long A Time," a demo track recorded at Ann's Seattle house before it morphed into "Love Alive," one of Little Queen's strongest tracks.

Despite the diversity on Little Queen, Dog & Butterfly comes off as more experimental than its predecessor. From the scorching live version of "Cook With Fire" that opens the album and straight on through the bluesy gospel vibe of "High Time" and the beautiful title track, to the progressive-laced closer "Mistral Wind," Dog & Butterfly emerges as a strong yet not particularly memorable record. The bonus tracks include a live version of "Heartless" and the simmering "Feels," which later resurfaced as "Johnny Moon" on 1983's Passion Works.

Heart entered the Eighties with a different lineup, but as it was in the beginning, is now and forever shall be, amen everything revolved around Ann and Nancy. Bebe Le Strange isn't as cohesive as Little Queen and Dog & Butterfly, but it still finds the Wilson sisters rejuvenated, making serious rock that's fun to hear songs such as the title track, "Rockin' Heaven Down" and "Raised On You." The bonus tracks on Bebe Le Strange include "Jackleg Man," a previously unreleased song that reveals Ann's cattier side via wickedly piercing vocals. and "Break," recorded at an unidentified venue in 1980 and proving just how punk-rock Heart could get. In fact, the bonus tracks on each of these reissues serve as much more than filler, giving casual listeners a different perspective of the band while providing longtime fans with a few real gems.

Heart recently independently released Jupiter's Darling, its first studio album in 11 years and a record that sounds better than anyone had a right to expect it to sound. More importantly, within the context of the band's earlier work, Jupiter's Darling gives greater nod to this early triumverate than to Heart's last trio of albums: 1987's Bad Animals, 1990's Brigade and 1993's Desire Walks On. Three decades on, Ann and Nancy Wilson retain both their sensuality and their originality, making Heart one of the most distinct and enduring bands of the modern rock era.

Track Listings
Little Queen:
1) Barracuda (4:22)
2) Love Alive (4:18)
3) Sylvan Song (2:14)
4) Dream of the Archer (4:31)
5) Kick It Out (2:44)
6) Little Queen (5:12)
7) Treat Me Well (3:24)
8) Say Hello (3:36)
9) Cry To Me (2:51)
10) Go On Cry (5:51)
11) Too Long a Time (Bonus: Recorded at Ann's House, Seattle, 1976) (3:30)
12) Stairway to Heaven (Bonus: Recorded live at The Aquarius Tavern, Seattle, 1976) (9:20)
Total Time: 52:06

Dog & Butterfly:
1) Cook With Fire (4:57)
2) High Time (3:21)
3) Hijinx (3:30)
4) Straight On (5:05)
5) Dog & Butterfly (5:21)
6) Lighter Touch (5:03)
7) Nada One (5:21)
8) Mistral Wind (6:41)
9) Heartless (Bonus: Live, BBC Concert, 1978) (5:00)
10) Feels (Bonus: 1978) (4:53)
11) A Little Bit (Bonus: 1982 (0:49)
Total Time: 50:23

Bebe Le Strange:
1) Bebe Le Strange (3:39)
2) Down on Me (4:47)
3) Silver Wheels (1:23)
4) Break (2:32)
5) Rockin' Heaven Down (5:54)
6) Even It Up (5:11)
7) Strange Night (4:17)
8) Raised On You (3:21)
9) Pilot (3:16)
10) Sweet Darlin' (3:17)
11) Jackleg Man (Bonus: 1978-79) (3:02)
12) Break (Bonus: Recorded live at unidentified venue, 1980) (3:03)

Added: August 3rd 2004
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Heart Web Site
Hits: 3821
Language: english

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