First Published – 18 October 2012 – Classic Rock Radio (UK)
Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Heart – Fanatic (2012)
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown – American Correspondent
You don’t know how happy I was to realize that I have nothing but good things to say about Heart’s newest studio release; Fanatic. A notch up from their last couple of studio releases. I’ve been paying close attention. Caught the Heart bug when Dreamboat Annie came out. I love the song Magic Man today, as much as I did when it first hit the airwaves. A fan ever since.
My first time seeing Heart in concert was on my birthday in ’77. The day/night Elvis Presley passed away; 16 Aug 1977. The group Heart was touring, their second studio album; Little Queen. Was a fabulous show!! The warm-up act, Rick Derringer, announced to the crowd that Elvis Presley died, during his encore(s). Both Rick with his band and the headliner that evening, Heart, did tributes to Presley. A night to remember. It was my birthday. The seat, 4th-row center, was a present. Blew my young mind. I was head over heels in lust with the Wilson sisters. Ann had the best cleavage. Very pretty ladies! After that, as the years went by, I caught a couple of Heart concerts. Good shows! Cheap Trick warmed up at one concert, back in 1985, and Michael Bolton warmed up for the other. Heart was then touring the studio album; Heart – Bad Animals (1987). Both were outdoor shows. The one with Michael Bolton was in Houston TX (USA), across the highway from the Astrodome, at an amusement park called, Astro World. That’s non-existent now.
I last saw Heart live, here in Houston, back in ’04. Lennon Murphy warmed up. A very talented young lady. She at one time warmed up for Alice Cooper. That’s how I got turned on to her. A more mature Heart than the version I first saw in Asbury Park, New Jersey (USA) back in 1977. Something was different. Ann and Nancy seemed to have lightened up their overall demeanor. The sisters appeared to be not only getting into their performances, and the audience’s reactions but seemed to honestly be having fun also. A fresh attitude so to say. Had a new studio out at the time; Jupiter’s Darling. It was a solid effort. As was their last studio release; Red Velvet Car (2010). This time around…welcome back Heart; Ann & Nancy Wilson. The magic’s back with; Heart – Fanatic.
I just checked out the setlist for the string of current shows the band has been doing. I so want to go. That statement, and or desire, actually says a lot. Honestly, I’ve seen the ladies in concert, back when they were in their prime. How are they to beat the show I have seen them do when they re-invented themselves with their self titled; Heart (1985)? That would be hard to do. Older now (just saying).
Touring this CD could very well be the BEST thing they have done in decades. I hear songs that remind me very much so of their early period. There’s something to make me think of their ’80’s (big hair) period. And very modern kick-ass tunes to represent the year we’re in; 2012.
The CD starts off hard rocking as all get out. Ann Wilson’s voice sounding as strong as it ever did back in the 1970s, is belting out the words. Sounding sexy also; “I’m just a fanatic”, a line from the CDs title song.
The second song. All I can say is; “WOW.” A very raw and funky groove indeed. Paced like a dirty blues song. Songs called; Dear Old America. “Hurricane’s blowing…” Ann speaks. She’s in complete control of this ride. Dare I say, a new greatest hit. Should be fun to experience in concert.
Track three includes performer Sarah Ann McLachlan. Pleasant sounding acoustic song. Well done harmonies with Sarah. Ann Wilson gets credit for flute. I so dig that !!! Tunes called; ‘Walkin’ Good’.
‘Skin And Bones‘ got this very cool funky 80’s groove going on. I swear at first it sounds like a Prince song. I gave it a repeat play the first time I played it thru. Has a good strut to it. The next song after as well; ‘A Million Miles’. Ben E. Smith stands out on this track. As does Ben Mink. If you’re a lover of the lute family, then you’ll additionally love this. Yet another in a long list of cool things about Heart…they can rock with mandolins.
‘Pennsylvania‘ again stands out as a song with superb harmonies.
‘Mashallah!’ is a hard-rocking tune that could have come out of the 1980s from this band. Ann’s vocals are beyond strong. She’s in perfect control, as is the band behind her. Ric Markmann yet again shows how good a bass player on this song he is. Consistent on the whole CD.
Track 8 is entitled; Rock Deep (Vancouver). In the same vein as Dog & Butterfly. Reminds me of that song anyway.
The second to last track on Fanatic is called; ‘59 Crunch‘. Smith pounds on the drums. A good rockin’ instrumental intro. A solid song.
This MIGHT be my favorite new Heart song. The last song on the CD (not including bonus songs). Has the vibe of an earlier Heart time. Yet again, another song that includes the mandolin. It also reminds me of Page & Plant’s version of ‘Kashmir’ from their MTV Unplugged CD. Which is a cool thing.
Using the one to a five-star rating system, I give Heart’s Fanatic: 5 stars !!! I played it more times than I could count since I picked it up at the Best Buy near my house. The reason for purchasing the actual CD there, was because the Best Buy version contained three bonus songs. All three rock and can’t be any cooler, especially for bonus material. Nothings weak.
The bonus songs made the total of songs contained on the CD; 13. Some might consider that number, bad luck. No need for Heart to worry about that. Simply, this is a solid record, start to finish.
When most classic rock bands are trying to find ways to still make it work, Heart thrust themselves into the year 2012, as much a hard-working rock band today, as they were damn near 40 years ago (Dreamboat Annie was released in 1976). This just past Summer, a box set was released; ‘Strange Euphoria’. The Wilson sisters just came out with a book; Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll. Heart is touring now with five new songs included in the current setlist. Heart also recently appeared for their first time on VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show (along with Lita Ford). Now this excellent CD. Everything’s coming up hearts. Very good for Ann & Nancy.
A long list of excellent supporting players over the years. I’ll admit, I loved the original band. Frankly, Ann and Nancy’s supporting line-up on the new CD / their 2012 touring band is as solid a lineup as the original Heart rooster was. Plus they have been together as a unit for some time now. It shows. Frankly, I love this new CD. If a long-time and dedicated Heart fan like myself, you certainly will NOT be disappointed with their newest hot release; Fanatic.
All material on Fanatic was written by; Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, and Ben Mink. Produced by Ben Mink.
Catch the band — support Fanatic. Check out their official websites for concert dates.
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