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HEART 1985 Album Review

Updated on September 29, 2015
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Miriam has been a freelance writer since 2013. Born in Whittier, CA, she now lives in Ontario, CA, with her husband and family.

HEART Promo 1985

Promo for HEART, 1985.
Promo for HEART, 1985. | Source

A Little About The Band

What About HEART?

My sister, Monica, got me into Heart in the early 1980's when she introduced me to the album “Bébé Le Strange” (1980 release). From this album I fell in love with Ann Wilson’s screaming rock vocals – and her beautiful ballads. I started collecting Heart’s albums, but when I got to their albums “Private Audition” and “Passionworks” I understood why they lost popularity: the songs were nothing exciting or specisl, and most of the songs were on the slow side. The new material lacked the energy and originaltiy of their best albums. Thus, they lost much of their younger audience-- and teenagers are the ones that buy most concert tickets and recorded music.

Fingerpicking, Acoustic Guitar

I was just learning to play the guitar back then, so I was very impressed with Nancy’s mastery of the acoustic guitar -- especially on the prelude to “Crazy On You” which is from their first album “Dreamboat Annie” and also on “Greatest Hits/Live” album. I have the tablature, but it is still a difficult part to play-- it's fast and includes many styles for such a short musical (master-) piece.

Their music was and is very melodic, with interesting changes. The songs are dynamically performed, and show the band's musicianship off. A typical Heart album has a blend of hard rock songs contrasted with softer songs and ballads. Plus, Ann’s amazing vocals gave me something to strive for – even though I could never match her 5-octave vocal range! I wanted to be a rock-singer when I was in my mid-20’s, so I needed to stretch my vocal chords. Also, their acoustic guitar songs were beautiful, and inspired me to learn more on the guitar.

Nancy, Acoustic Guitar Featured

Heart albums usually featured Nancy playing one or two acoustic guitar songs; or a song that is fingerpicked (also called "fingerstyle") with an interesting part. One that I have always loved is the song "Love Alive" from their "Little Queen" (2nd) album.

"Nothin' At All" has a picked part that is the main riff of the song. It is easy to play, and impressive to others because it sounds really good. I have always liked attempting songs that were difficult to play; easy songs get boring quick.

I admire both Ann and Nancy for their amazing drive, talent, and success.

Ann & Nancy Wilson

I know very little about Ann and Nancy’s history. All I know is they are sisters and that they live in Seattle, Washington. I believe Heart started recording in the early 1970's and then got a break from a Canadian record company called Mushroom Records. Soon their first album was released, "Dreamboat Annie”(1976). “Dreamboat Annie” yielded two commercially successful songs: “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You”.

Magic Man, Howard Leese

When I first heard “Magic Man” on the radio I was impressed with its mystical sound. The musicians in the band were exceptional (as usual) and included lead guitarist, Howard Leese.

Although, the band's lineup changed a few times since the inception of Heart, Howard Leese played lead guitar on their first album "Dreamboat Annie" and he is featured on their 1985 HEART album (after all these years). Howard often "battles" guitars back and forth with Nancy onstage; he is also seen on the video for "These Dreams" fingertapping the solo.

Little Queen, Barracuda

After “Dreamboat Annie" and their hit single “Magic Man”, Heart had a series of successful albums and the following singles:

  1. "Barracuda" from the "Little Queen" album – Portrait Records (1977)
  2. "Heartless" from the "Magazine" album (1977)
  3. "Straight On" from the "Dog and Butterfly" album (1978)
  4. "Even It Up" from the "Bébé Le Strange" album (1980)
  5. "Tell It Like It Is" from the "Greatest Hits/Live" album (1980)

Popularity Wanes/Dropped by Epic Records

Then In 1982 Epic Records released "Private Audition", but it did not meet sales expectations and neither did their following album, “Passionworks” released in 1983.

Epic did release a single from "Passionworks": "How Can I Refuse"; it had minor chart success. But after two unsuccessful record releases, Epic counted their losses and dropped the group.

1985: Capitol Records Release HEART

Heart went through major changes in their image, trying to update their image with the bands considered “cool” at the time. “Glam Rock” was the genre they sought after, with the fancy big hair-does and excessive clothing fashion—reminds me of what The Beatles wore on the "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" album-- or Prince’s clothes -- kind of Renaissance-ish. They hired new songwriters and the music also changed: the guitars used power-chords and played speed metal now—the band became more commercially marketable.

Heart signed on with Capitol Records and on July 6, 1985, HEART was released.

Nominated for Grammy & More

“HEART” became Heart's comeback album (Click to Tweet) and the group’s most successful record collection to date. HEART is the only album to hit #1 here in the United States.

In 1986, HEART was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, however, they did not win the coveted award.

Another achievement they accomplished: HEART ranked #1 album on Billboard's Hot 200 List (





Who Played What: The Musicians

The Musicians of HEART

  • Ann Wilson: Lead and harmony vocals, guitar.
  • Nancy Wilson: 6 and 12-string guitars, electric guitar, and mandolin; Lead vocal on “These Dreams”, harmony vocals.
  • Howard Leese: Lead electric guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals, and keyboards.
  • Mark Andes: Electric bass guitar.
  • Denny Carmassi: Drums, percussion.
  • Grace Slick: Harmony vocals on “These Dreams” and “Nothin’ at All”.
  • Other musicians: Johnny Colla (harmonies on “These Dreams” and “Nothin’ at All”); Holly Knight (keyboards); Frankie Sullivan (guitar solo on “Nobody Home”, guitar on “Nothin’ at All”); Mickey Thomas (harmony on “What About Love”, “All Eyes” and “Shell Shock”; Peter Wolf (piano, synthesizer).

"These Dreams" Single Sleeve

Single Sleeve for "These Dreams".
Single Sleeve for "These Dreams". | Source

A Review of the Songs of HEART

Side One:

  • If Looks Could Kill (J. Conrad/B. Garrett): The opening song for the album sets the tempo and attempts to emphasize their new “heavy metal” image. Regardless, this song is a good rocker, is fun to sing, and has simple but effective guitar licks embellishing the song. “If Looks Could Kill” is a song about a man cheating on his woman. Unfortunately, the best she can do is imagine that her “looks” could be powerful enough to get him lying on the floor, begging her to stop hurting him. Too bad our imaginations are not enough, to make it real, but it does not hurt to vent.
  • What About Love (S. Alton/B. Allen): This is a beautiful torch ballad: dramatic, emotional, and musically moving. “What About Love” is a question to a man that does not seem to want a relationship, instead he stays out of view, avoiding the complications relationships can bring. Ann reminds the man (the object of her affection) that he needs someone to care about him; doesn’t he? Maybe a little bit corny, as far as the lyrics go, but it is a beautiful song.
  • Never (A. Wilson/H.Knight/Greg Bloch): Interesting guitar parts, and nicely melodic, “Never” has an almost funky-feel to it. The song is danceable, and the harmonies are great, “Never” sticks in your mind, too, but it’s a good song so who cares. (“We can’t go o-o-n….Never!”)
  • These Dreams (M. Page/B. Taupin): Sung by Nancy, for a change, this song sounds like a dream. Dreamy music and vivid nonsensical descriptions of dream-like events, such as “I look for the time on a watch with no hands…” (Bernie Taupin/Martin Page). Plus, if you watch the video, you can see Howard Leese finger-tapping the solo (on guitar) during the instrumental break. “These Dreams” was Nancy’s first #1 hit.
  • The Wolf (Ali Wilson): The guitars on several songs on this record, including “The Wolf” use power-chords to give the music lower, darker, tones. The guitar lick at the beginning of the songs does a pretty good job imitating the howl of a wolf

Side Two:

  • All Eyes (A. Wilson/N.Wilson/S. Ennis/H. Knight): The words of confident, sassy woman to her prospective boyfriend. This song illustrates a woman’s viewpoint when the boyfriend has wandering eyes. It’s got a cool guitar riff that is repeated throughout the song, otherwise, this song is so-so.
  • Nobody Home (A.Wilson/N.Wilson/S.Ennis): This song teaches a lesson, “Do not be so quick to leave that when you finally come back home nobody is there for you”; interesting threat. Ann does a great job singing this haunting melody-- and the music is appropriately dreamy.
  • Nothin’ At All (M.Mueller): I love the way the music is picked on the guitar, it is simple to play, but sounds pretty impressive. The feel of the song, provided by the music, is well represented by the music video, as it sounds like walking music. I actually like this song more than “Never” because the music sets the theme.
  • What He Don’t Know (A.Wilson/N.Wilson/S.Ennis): This is a song about cheating on your man; it has the “what he does not know, will not hurt him” attitude with the hook line, “What he don’t know/ Will never hurt him…”(N. Wilson/N. Lamoureaux/A. Wilson/S. Ennis)The music is average Heart and has a quasi-funky sound to it.
  • Shell Shock (A.Cresswell/V.Emerson/A.Mulford/J.Stimpson/I.Wilson/P.Young): Shell Shock is another power-chord driven hard rock song. Sung with attitude and overconfidence, this song is better than average and has some memorable licks and artificial harmonics that sound cool. The words are okay, but kind of immature – for their age.


To sum up, this album is excellent! I give it 4-1/2 stars (out of 5).

Ann & Nancy Wilson

(Left to Right) Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.
(Left to Right) Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. | Source

Singles from HEART

The following songs were released from the HEART album. The highest position on the Billboard music charts is also provided:

  • These Dreams: Week of March 22, 1986, peaked at #1; 20 weeks on Billboard charts..
  • What About Love: Week of August 24, 1985, peaked at #10; 21 weeks on Billboard charts.
  • Never: Week of December 7, 1985, peaked at #4; 24 weeks on Billboard charts.
  • Nothin' At All: Week of June 21, 1986, peaked at #10; 16 weeks on Billboard charts.
  • If Looks Could Kill: Week of August 9, 1986 peaked at #54; 9 weeks on Billboard charts.


These Dreams: #1 Song, Vocal by Nancy

What About Love

Nothin' At All

If Looks Could Kill


Take This HEART Poll

What of the following songs on HEART is your favorite?

See results

Howard and Nancy

Howard and Nancy "dueling guitars".
Howard and Nancy "dueling guitars". | Source

Ann Wilson

Ann posing for the cameras.
Ann posing for the cameras. | Source

Heart Trivia

There is only a little bit of trivia about Heart, but here are a few tidbits:

  • Ann had gastric band surgery in 2002 to help her lose weight.
  • "Barracuda" (written by Ann) is about when Mushroom Records marketed/advertised the Ann and Nancy as incestous sisters, which outraged Ann, resulting in this song
  • Around 1980 (Bébé Le Strange period), after Ann gained weight, she started having panic attacks while in concert causing her to develop stage fright.
  • Ann wrote "Magic Man" about her romance with Mike Fisher in the early 1970's when they moved to Canada without letting the rest of the band know.


In Concert

Heart in concert.
Heart in concert. | Source

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