Nancy Wilson and Ann Wilson of Heart (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)Pardon my distinct lack of enthusiasm here, but while I understand the political reason for letting Heart into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (look -- women!), I can't get my mind around the fact that they're supremely average and if Foreigner aren't going into the Hall with their radio-friendly hits -- and the Cars have been overlooked with their better than average pop songs -- I don't see any reason to let these pleasant people in either. If it's women the Hall seeks, couldn't they go for the Runaways? And then tap Poly Styrene?
Now, of course, I believe everyone should be in the Hall. Your band? Yep! So, it's up to me to find a couple different songs that make the argument for inclusion. I've done my job and listened through the catalog and I wrote down the ten songs they're likely most remembered for and in technical terms the music is 'eh.'
I am not counting their performance of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," which is just fine for what it is, but covers of other people's famous songs don't make much of a case for anything but your potential gig at the corner bar.
10) All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You: Amazing to hear there was a 1979 version of this song with different lyrics by Dobie Gray. By 1990, producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange," best known for demanding 'hooks' packed into hooks for Def Leppard and Shania Twain, gave this one to The Heart and they made what remains one of the best videos I've ever seen. If you've ever had a women take you to a motel where you ended up working behind the desk for the rest of your life and wondered if maybe you had a kid you didn't know about? The answer is, yeah, probably.
9) What About Love: I have always wished they'd changed the words to "What About Bob?" and used it as the soundtrack to that fine Richard Dreyfuss film. But life is filled with moments you wish were actually better than they were.
8) Alone: I know the 1980s wouldn't have been the 1980s without those over-the-top productions but I've often wondered how these songs would sound with the tighter, grittier productions of the 1970s or the 1990s. The melodies don't sound bad (courtesy of Billy Steinberg?). But the music sounds like a perfume ad. My superfab g-friend walked into the room and said, "This is depressing." And she's a Leonard Cohen fan!
7) These Dreams: This is one of those songs from the 1980s that I've heard easily more than a hundred times. I never knew its name and it never occurred to me that it was Heart. It never occurred to me that anyone would care about this song. Unless you were selling cars. Or something.
6) Who Will You Run To: Nothing says 'desperate' like a 'Diane Warren' writing credit. But Warren got results. This tune landed at #7 and kept Heart afloat through the 1980s. However, you make your deal with the devil, you live with the critical rep that comes from it. You got your big house. No need for respect, too. Let's not be greedy.
5) Bebe Le Strange: Had Heart followed up Bebe Le Strange with an album as 'competent' as this one, there might not be detractors waiting at their door. You can say this is what the 1980s did to people, but it didn't do it to everyone. For the record, I'm all for women singing in French! Usually by Francoise Hardy, though.
4) Dreamboat Annie: I'm not even sure which song I'm voting for here. There's the '(Fantasy Child)' part that's sandwiched between "Magic Man" and "Crazy On You." Then there's the regular version that ends side one of the album and then there's the 'Reprise' that ends side two and is longer than both the other versions combined. I've heard of bands coming out and playing their one-hit as the opening song at a concert and then again at the end and then as the encore but never on an album. Can you imagine, say, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" showing up three times on Born To Run? Or "Darling Nikki" on Purple Rain.
3) Crazy On You: It's a decent guitar hook and had the band really delivered strong albums from this point on, they might be more obviously deserving. But no single album of theirs was a knockout and cumulatively there's too much addition and subtraction in their career to make much sense out of it. I've run Heart through the algorithm and they come out at -11, which means they're entitled to perform at county fairs.
2) Magic Man: For an opening cut on an album from the 1970s, this is pretty landmark. I didn't believe my ears at the time that a reference to getting high awhile before, you know, 'doing it' could sound so casual. By the 1980s, the long instrumental bit in the middle would've been removed and another hook, suggested by "Mutt" Lange and written by Diane Warren, would've been repeated four times.
1) Barracuda: Sure, as far as classic rock radio was concerned this tune was played as often as many others by AOR bands of the time and Ann Wilson's impressive vocals helped it stand out among the studied glob that came so steadily from major labels that an "alternative" rock had to emerge in order to restore the balance.