Heart's "Desire Walks On" -- Album Review
Heart's 11th Studio Album: Excellent!
A Music Collection Like No Other
The first time I heard the album “Desire Walks On” by Heart, I was amazed at how powerful their music had become. Heart has always displayed their diversity on all their albums, but this one was noticeably different in a much more dynamic way. Several songs impressed me enough to say this is their best music since "HEART", their 1985 comeback album.
Unfortunately, although this collection of songs was way above average for Heart, this compilation did not sell very well – which was surprising to me. I liked it so much I bought a copy for one of my friends --something I had never done in my life before or since!
Favorites on This Album
Several songs from “Desire Walks On” are excellent in every way (Click to Tweet): “Voo Doo Doll”, “Black on Black”, “Desire Walks On”, "My Crazy Head", and “In Walks the Night” are among my album favorites. Musically, these songs have excellent melodies, interesting progressions, and were sung by the best female rocker/balladeer in the music industry: Ann Wilson.
Heart has a way of matching the music with the lyrics, like setting a scene in a sort of “onomatopoeia-like” way. For example, “Voo Doo Doll” begins with the sound of hollow bamboo pipes being played slowly, which feels like you are in a jungle-setting.
Listen for Yourself
In my opinion,"Desire Walks On" is an excellent music set; but do not take my word for it-- you need to listen to the entire album (compact disc, MP3, vinyl record) for yourself. If you are already a fan of Heart's, you will quickly agree that this album deserved a much better reception than what it received. However, if you are a new listener to Heart's music, you will instantly become a new fan as soon as you listen to this collection of songs. It is not the kind of album that you have to listen to several times so it can "grow on you", either.
So, why not give "Desire Walks On" a whirl? You can preview the songs on Youtube if you like, before buying the disc in the format of your choice; you will be pleasantly surprised.
1993's "Desire Walks On" by Heart
The Songs of “Desire Walks On”
- Desire 0.17 A short introduction and the prequel to the first song on the album. "Desire" includes dialogue by Ann and Nancy that bleeds into "Black on Black II".
- Black on Black II 3:53 (Lisa Dalbello, Ann & Nancy Wilson) Starts out with a slowly picked electric guitar that quickly dives into a galloping tempo, similar to “Barracuda” but not as fast and distinctly different. In my opinion, it is one of the best songs on the album. Ann’s dynamic vocals enter full-throttle as she screams, “Black on bla-ack!” After this, the band slows down, and takes the music’s volume down to almost a whisper as Ann softly sings the first verse of the song. This song is presented masterfully, and brings your attention to the vocals, sung softly in the verses, then dynamically sung as Ann belts out the title in the chorus. Background vocalists chant words such as “They say that opposites attract…” and then Ann chimes in, “Like right and wrong"…. "Black on black!/ Like pleasure and a little pain/The sacred and profane…” Excellent musicianship is displayed by all members of the band in this dramatic, theme-setting song.
- Back to Avalon 3:41 (Ann & Nancy Wilson) This song starts out with Nancy’s beautifully played acoustic guitar that includes picking, hammer-ons, and slides that are repeated throughout the song, but played so well you never tire of the repetition. In fact, I had to learn this part myself because I was so impressed with the part! “Back to Avalon” is another one of those songs you can listen to over and over without growing tired of it. The song itself is of medium-tempo and a little country-tinged, but very good just the same. I like it much better than the song “Dreamboat Annie” and consider it very refreshing and different from their more common rock-style.
- The Woman in Me 4:01 (John Bettis & Michael Clark) Another ballad beautifully sung by Ann, with finger-tapping executed masterfully by Howard Leese, this song should have made another top 40 hit for the group. However, for some unknown reason this song did not achieve this status. To me, it is an excellent song in every way and the group plays way above average so this is one of those unsolved mysteries of music.
- Rage 5:02 (Sue Ennis-Ann Wilson- Nancy Wilson) The song steps out of the “rock” music the band is known for, as it achieves a musical intensity that differs from their standard fare. This song is another favorite of mine, and the main riff brings to mind ancient Egyptian times.
- In Walks the Night 6:02 (Ann & Nancy Wilson) This song starts with a melodic piano progression, although I have attempted to replicate this song by fingerpicking the notes on my Squire Stratocaster with good results. Once again, this is another one of my favorites, mainly because of the beautifully sung melody and exquisite music. You will love this tune!
- My Crazy Head 4:32 (M. Ennis-Sue Ennis-Ann & Nancy Wilson) At the risk of sounding repetitious, this song is also a favorite from this album! (When a music collection contains several favorites, you know it is good!) Some of the words for the chorus, “Baby love me out/ love me out of this world./Sanctify my crazy head…” Not only a nice, melodic tune and hook line, but an all-around great song!
- Ring Them Bells 3:51 (Bob Dylan) I thought it strange when I discovered this song was written by the great Bob Dylan, but played by Heart this song does not sound too Dylan-esque! One would think this song would be countrified, but sung by Ann Wilson, it is well-interpreted and not at all corny.Very nicely done!
- Will You Be There (in the Morning) 4:29 (Robert John Lange) This song is sung by Nancy, Ann’s blonde guitar-playing sister. A skilled musician and vocalist, Nancy sings this song very well, but has a lighter approach than her voice-belting sister, Ann. Nancy executes tender vocals to this medium-tempo love song that enjoyed some chart success: “Will You Be There (in the Morning)” reached #39 on U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_You_Be_There_(In_the_Morning)]
- Voo Doo Doll 4:52 (John Capek-Any Sky-Ann & Nancy Wilson) "Voo Doo Doll" impresses me as much as their song "Mistral Wind" (from their 1978 "Dog & Butterfly" album). The music sets the scene for this jungle-sounding song, and Ann sings the title dynamically with the words sung out loud for "Voo-doo!" and then brought down to almost a whisper for the word "doll..." I love this amazingly well performed song!
- Anything is Possible 5:00 (Lisa Del Bello-Ann & Nancy Wilson) “With God all things are possible” is what this title brings to mind. Ann sings this song with the attitude and mind of an assertive, confident woman. The song empowers the listener and boosts the spirit, and there is nothing wrong with that in my book! “Anything is Possible” is a very good song with a positive message.
- Avalon (Reprise) 0:31 (Ann & Nancy Wilson) The second reprise-type song on the album, this song is meant to be the prelude to “Desire Walks On,” the final track of the album and is only about ½ a minute in length. ”Avalon” begins with Nancy’s languid and deliberate chord strumming – she beautifully plays the acoustic in a lazy manner. This all sounds very nice and relaxing, and it is a treat to hear the entire progression played through slow enough to actually listen to it. (You get to enjoy the music which usually is played so fast you barely notice the full essence of her musicianship.) Ann comes in singing the lyrics equally slow: “Gonna find my—love/Gonna find my--- life/Gonna look them so...deep…in the ey---e.” This slowly played song leads into the more dynamic, “Desire Walks On” which is a bit faster, and builds on their musical theme of this album.
- Desire Walks On 5:06 (Sue Ennis-Ann & Nancy Wilson) “Desire Walks On” starts out powerfully/dynamically, yet once again, languidly, as the guitars, bass, and drums move to a trot; yet not as fast as the opening song, “Black on Black II”. The song progresses to a medium-tempo and the guitars play power-chords with downward slides in a syncopated rhythm. Ann sings the vocals, softly, almost snidely and confidently. The lyrics are interestingly chosen, and well interpreted by Ann’s vocal delivery. I like the way this song moves, almost menacingly, with crescendos and decrescendos back and forth throughout the song—plus the punchy bass-line; it all makes for a nice ending song to complete this wonderful set. (Also, notice the slapback-effect of the percussion during the chorus!) A must-have collection for all Heart lovers.
Back Cover for "Desire Walks On"
Musicians on "Desire Walks On"
- Ann Wilson: Lead and background vocals.
- Nancy Wilson: Acoustic & electric guitars; background vocals.
- Howard Leese: Acoustic & electric guitars; Bass guitar on "The Woman in Me" and background vocals.
- Denny Carmassi: Drums, percussion, and sequencing on "The Woman in Me."
Other Musicians on "Desire Walks On":
- Cole Chance Steichen: Bell tree.
- Dalbello: Background vocals for "Black on Black II" & "Anything is Possible."
- Duane Baron: Background vocals, producer and engineer.
- Ella Marie Gray & Simon James: Violins.
- John Purdell: Keyboards, background vocals, producer.
- Schuyler Deale: Electric bass guitar.
- Timothy Hale: Viola.
- Walter Gray: Cello.
Ann Performing in Concert
Voo Doo Doll
Nancy & Ann Wilson
Black On Black II "Live" on Letterman
In Walks the Night
"Desire Walks On" Poll
Who is your favorite musician/instrumentalist on "Desire Walks On"?
My Crazy Head
Back to Avalon
1994 Ann & Nancy with "Lovemongers" group
Please Rate this Album Review
"Desire Walks On" Available on Amazon
“Desire Walks On” by Heart is rated 4.5 stars by customers! This fine collection of songs is available in several formats: MP3, audio CD, and audio cassette. You can buy your copy from Amazon new or used and at an affordable price.
Released in 1993, this is Heart’s eleventh studio album, and is even more melodic and musically interesting than “Jupiter’s Darling” which is also an excellent music collection by the Wilson sisters and their band.
In my opinion, “Desire Walks On” is the best Heart album since their 1985 comeback album HEART! The group is at their musical finest, playing some of their best rockers and ballads in one awesome compilation—it will absolutely delight old and new Heart fans. Several songs on this collection have quickly become my personal favorites, despite the fact that it sold fewer albums than anticipated.
Get your copy now!
© 2015 Miriam Parker