Wednesday, May 13, 2009

These Dreams: Heart's Greatest Hits (1997, CD)

I just got this in from a few days ago. I thought it looked like a decent compilation for my collection, and I wanted their hits (at least) on CD so I could make some good, clean mp3s.

Everyone reading this already knows all about Heart that they want to, I assume. I don't have every Heart album there is, but from what I know, their career seems to be pretty sharply divided into two parts: the beginning to 1980, and everything after 1980. The two albums released in 1982 and '83 (Private Audition and Passionworks, respectively) might be considered a sort of gray zone between the two eras, with the second era really beginning in 1985 with Heart.

Beginning in 1985 Heart took over the radio once again with numerous "power ballads" that, I think, combined some of their 70s-era harder rock with the more polished and less hard sound of 80s pop. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's not something that means a lot to me.

Anyway, if you want a good compilation that covers their pre-1980 era, you don't want this album. You want Greatest Hits/Live, which is a 2-record set in its original format. Record 1 is the "greatest hits" part, and record 2 is the "live" part. Record 2 also includes a couple of oddballs that are more "found sound" or experimental pieces, as well as a rough but powerful live cover of "Unchained Melody" (Ann Wilson's voice punches holes through the clouds on this song), all of which were deleted from the CD version of the album.

But, if you're looking for a compilation that gives a better overview of their career from the very beginning up to the mid-90s, this is the one. Packed with 17 tracks and running more than 73 minutes, they crammed all the music they could onto one CD. It has all the essential big radio hits of the 70s era, all the big power ballad hits of the 80s, and a couple of 90s pieces, too. They opted to include live acoustic versions of "Dog & Butterfly" and "Straight On" rather than the original recordings, and I must say they're pretty cool. They also included a live version of "Barracuda," rather than the original studio version, which is Ann Wilson's angry ode to their original label, Mushroom Records.

Ann and Nancy Wilson were an anomaly when they started out: two sisters who rocked hard and led their own band. Sisters! Who'd-a thunk it!? They have become enormously influential in rock music, and they have taught me one thing for sure: women do power ballads better than men. Accept it. It is a fundamental truth.

I have read that in more recent years they have returned more to their harder rock roots. But honestly, I kind of quit keeping track around 1990.

Amazon has sound samples of all tracks on Greatest Hits/Live, but none for These Dreams. But then you already know what they sound like, right?

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