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15 Dec. 2006
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Why I

If I haven't yet made clear that I'm a fan of rock & roll, then I've been excessively subtle or, more likely, someone out there has been working on his neutronium imitation.  I am a fan.  And I additionally and unabashedly admit to a total lack of musical sophistication.  Which is not to imply that the bands I like are unsophisticated.  I'm sure the members of many of them even read.

One of my favorites is the band Heart.  The sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson have cranked out some of the best albums in my collection.  And CDs, too.  Heart is the only artist that I purchased in vinyl, and then duplicated in CD.  As an extra extravagance, I traded my copy of the impossibly rare Pink Floyd single "See Emily Play" (with the picture cover) for the extravagantly unavailable "Magazine" LP on the Mushroom label that was pulled from the stores milliseconds after release.  (And I do especially like the version of the title song on the Mushroom LP.)

Heart is a West Coast band; I don't get to see them too often for that reason.  My most recent sighting was when they played at the Beacon in New York City.  That was about two years ago, and I wrote a quick review asserting that it was the best concert I'd seen in a decade or more.  (Despite my enthusiasm playing air drums in the audience, those in neighboring seats did manage to leave unbruised.)

OK.  You now believe I am truly a fan of Heart.  But I haven't explained why.

Is it Ann Wilson's voice?  Well, yes, to some extent.  Grace Slick was pretty much retired by the time Heart came on the scene.  Ann was a worthy successor in the belting babe category, although she didn't quite have the beloved wailing style of Grace.  But there's more.

Heart appeared out of nowhere with the smash hit "Magic Man."  I bought their first album on the strength of that song alone, and it was good.  As was "Little Queen."  With their third release, "Dog and Butterfly," I turned rabid.  Largely responsible for this was their song "Mistral Wind."  "Mistral Wind" is one of those songs that changes paces in the middle.  It starts out slowly and then breaks into serious rockage.  I love that, and I'm not sure why.  There's something about these variable tempo songs that I just find infectious.  Here are some more by Heart: "Nada One" (right before "Mistral Wind") and "Love Alive."  The Grateful Dead have one - "The Weather Report Suite."  There's no shortage.

I'm uncharacteristically devoting this blogitem to music without even mentioning DRM (except just there, of course) because I want to make a few points. 

  • If you're a Heart fan, too, but haven't been paying attention recently, they have a newish album, "Jupiter's Darling."  It's easily on a par with their early albums before they went a little sappy.  (Not that I think they went too sappy; I love all their albums.) 

  • If you haven't had any nice thoughts about Sue Ennis, their writing partner, entertain a few.  I think she's teaching somewhere and I hope she and the Wilson Sisters put out some more music soon!

  • I have no idea why I like these change-of-pace songs so much.  Or why you have to listen to the whole thing to get the effect, rather than just the transition.  Or what they're really called.  Maybe there's an Italian word for it.  I hate not knowing what things are called, and I'm hoping that someone who does, or who might have an explanation for the phenomenon will send me a note.

I don't claim any special right of discovery here, by the way.  As I said, there's no shortage of this type of song.  If you can't think of any at the moment, you've probably forgotten the most popular R&R song ever.  It's called "Stairway to Heaven."


NP:  "Last Man On Earth" - Feathermerchants

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