Heart: Dreamboat Annie (1976)

Heart burst on the musical scene in 1976 with the release of Dreamboat Annie. Heart was a five-member band, but the focus would always be on the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy.

Hard, but melodic rock was the order of the day in the mid 1970s, and Heart’s lead singles were “Crazy On You” and “Magic Man.” The album peaked at number seven on Billboard, a great debut.

Ann was the sultry but powerful lead vocalist. She could dial up a full bodied voice for the aggressive rockers and sound gentle and smooth on the ballads, much like the versatility and range of Linda Ronstadt. Nancy didn’t start out being a virtuoso on guitar, but she got there. Roger Fisher and Howard Leese supplied most of the electric guitar.

The band was rounded out by Howard Leese on guitar/keyboards, Steve Fossen on bass and Mike Derosier on drums. Besides the Wilsons, Leese was the longest serving non-sister in the group, 23 years.

Heart was primarily a power guitar band like Boston, Foreigner and Bad Company. Having three guitar players have them versatility and the ability to play all of the guitar parts on the recordings.

Not everything on Dreamboat Annie is a gun blazing rockers, the group could downshift into some very effective ballads, like the title track.

After Dreamboat Annie, Heart was in demand as a touring band, but they immediately were locked into a battle with their record company.

Heart returned in 1977 on a new record label with Little Queen, and their old record company put out Magazine, a collection on unfinished and inferior tracts. Little Queen was a balance of rockers and folk-rock ballads.

Heart would release two more studio album with the majority of this line-up, at which time sales and commercial success would fade. No fear, the band would regroup for a rerun to success in the mid 1980s, but their most successful period was past. Since then, Heart (the Wilson sisters) would continue to record, tour and go on periods of hiatus. In 2019, the Wilsons have mended fences and are back together.

Ann and Nancy Wilson main songwriters.  Mike Flicker, producer.  The album peaked at number seven and sold over 1 million copies.

Side one

No.      Title            Length

  1. “Magic Man” 5:28 A mid-tempo song with lots of guitar showmanship and some synthesizer textures. The lead single for the album.
  2. “Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child)” 1:10 An acoustic ballad with nice harmony vocals. Showed the versatility of the band across different rock styles.
  3. “Crazy on You” 4:53 A great single, built around tremendous riffs.
  4. “Soul of the Sea” 6:33  A slower song but does not lose any energy or great guitar work.  Melodic, the song rolls along with great vocals.  Heart’s acoustic guitar skills were very underrated. The song is a composite of several song sections.
  5. “Dreamboat Annie” 2:02 Another version of the song, it was edited and released as the third single. Ann Wilson showed the world her voice could melt metal or be smooth as glass.

Side two

No.      Title            Length

  1. “White Lightning & Wine” 3:53  Great way to start the side, a rocking, foot-stomping guitar-fest.
  2. “(Love Me Like Music) I’ll Be Your Song” 3:20  Another very fine ballad, but not a wimpy kind, nice slide guitar work.
  3. “Sing Child” (writers: A. Wilson, Steve Fossen, Roger Fisher) 4:55  A Led Zeppelin style song, lots of guitar riffing going on.  An underrated song.
  4. “How Deep It Goes” (writer: A. Wilson) 3:49  A great acoustic ballad that ramps with the right amount of electric support, with orchestra backing.
  5. “Dreamboat Annie (Reprise)”  3:50 Yet another side of the song, a longer version, but you get the idea.

There is not a weak song on the album.  The guitar work is fresh and masterful.  The vocals are superb.  Heart represented a new and incredibly strong sound in the crowded wilderness of rock and roll.

81BzmLkn7SL._SS500_In 2007, Heart played Dreamboat Annie live for a planned release.

It was supplemented by a Pink Floyd, two Led Zeppelin and one Who song, in addition to “Mistrel Wind.”

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