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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Heart

Little Queen (Remaster)

Review by Gary Hill

Looking back at this disc in the modern day, without hearing the songs repeatedly on the radio, it is amazing how good the album is. Indeed, this one is truly one of the classic rock albums of the time. The band definitely had a knack for writing and performing thoughtful and entertaining songs that had a lot of artistic integrity. They knew just when to lay down a mellow number and when to really rock out. Not all of the band's catalog is nearly as strong as this one, but this album surely stands up alongside just about any other release by any artist - it is that good. The addition of two bonus cuts, Heart's brilliant cover of "Stairway to Heaven" being the most notable, make this one all the more interesting and vital. This is a must have for any fan of solid rock with artistic leanings.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Barracuda
This cut is one of the numbers on show here that most everyone knows. Its staccato hard edged riff and killer vocal arrangement make this one a sure winner that holds up very well even all these years out.
Love Alive
Showing their diversity, this number starts as a great acoustically driven balladic piece, feeling very much like mid-period Zeppelin. It's another very well conceived and performed piece. The arrangement on this one is stellar. They ramp up the tempo and volume later, building on the earlier themes for a while. The Zep influences really come out all over this section. The next segment, with its non-lyrical vocals, feels a lot like Yes. This one is a definite winner.
Sylvan Song
Starting with mellow nature sounds, acoustic texture take it from there building ever so slowly into a melody that feels both olde world and timeless. This segment gets very intricate. They build this organically and dramatically for a while, synthesizer occasionally washing over. This short instrumental serves as an intro to the next track.
Dream of the Archer
This ballad is dramatic and powerful. It is another highlight on a disc that is full of highlights. This is a track that could be at home on a progressive rock album. The vocal arrangement here is outstanding.
Kick It Out
This is a straight-ahead rocker that's a lot of fun. Still the band manages to throw in enough quirkiness to make it a bit above its basic roots.
Little Queen
This classic is a bouncy, mid-tempo number with a great rock and roll groove.
Treat Me Well
Another acoustically driven track, this one is such tasty blues. It's pretty and heartfelt, and even a bit gut wrenching.
Say Hello
Starting with applause and random conversation, these modes carry it until acoustic guitar brings it into the song proper, a more modern take on a '50's style rocker. This is definitely one of the weakest cuts on the disc, but not all that bad. That is a tribute to just how strong this CD truly is.
Cry To Me
Another balladic cut, this one is potent and pretty. It has an almost country texture at times. This is another solid track, but not a real standout.
Go On Cry
This smoking tune is both bluesy and progish. It's another exceptionally strong number that has a lot of emotion and power. It is a very dynamic piece.
Too Long a Time (Demo Version)
This is an early rough version of "Love Alive", and the first of two bonus cuts on the album. It's definitely rawer in texture than the final version. The lyrics are different, and the backing vocals are a little over the top. The final take on this is certainly superior, but this is cool nonetheless. The rawer rock and roll segments are definitely weak and take away from the charm of the song. The arrangement is nowhere near as interesting as what they would eventually make from this piece.
Stairway to Heaven (Live)
he other bonus cut, Heart's Zeppelin roots come out full scale on this great rendition. It's a good thing that there's no "Stairway Denied" here, as this version is a killer. There are no surprises, just a faithful take on the song. In fact, Heart plays it with more reverence than Zep often did. I suppose when you write a song you don't really need to show a whole lot of reverence to it, though.
 
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