Heart announces new 10-song studio release Fanatic; check out the title track

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Heart says Fanatic, its 14th studio album and second full-length studio project for Legacy, will arrive October 2.

Included are 10 new songs from sisters Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson, the first since 2010’s Red Velvet Car had its Top 10 debut in 2010. Heart will also be touring throughout the summer and fall, beginning on June 29 and continuing through November 17. Alejandro Escovedo and Shawn Colvin will be supporting in October and November respectively.

Fanatic was recorded in hotel rooms and studios up and down the West Coast, with Grammy-winning producer Ben Mink back at the helm with the Wilson sisters drawing from their own lives and personal experiences as inspiration for their music.

“Dear Old America” comes from memories of a military household and is written from the point of view of their father, a Marine Corps officer, returning from war (“When I get home, I’m going to own this town/Shine this medal/Wear that crown….”); “Rock Deep (Vancouver)” harkens back to the city where Dreamboat Annie was written; and “Walkin’ Good” (a duet with Vancouver resident Sarah McLachlan) captures the joy of finding new life in a new love.

The title song is a celebration of the Wilson’s life spirit: Ann and Nancy are fanatics about love, art, truth, and the belief that they can do anything together they set their minds to. Fans looking for a first taste of Fanatic can check out the title track on YouTube.

“What a crazy year we are having,” said Ann Wilson. “Our box set, Strange Euphoria, and our book, Kicking and Dreaming, each tell the story of our lives so far, personally and musically. Our new album, Fanatic, tells our story as it is now and brings it all up-to-the-minute. What a thrill to have worked with both Charles Cross and Ben Mink respectively on these, and of course to touch the musical magic Nancy and I have always shared together. Anybody want to RAWK??”

Released in 2010, Fanatic’s predecessor, Red Velvet Car (the first new studio album in six years from the groundbreaking Seattle-based band) entered the Billboard 200 best-selling album charts at No. 10, becoming the seventh Top 10 album of Heart’s career. Heart’s critically-acclaimed first album for Legacy Recordings marked the return of Heart to the Sony Music Entertainment family, reaching #1 in sales on Amazon.com on Sunday, September 5.

On June 5, Epic Records/Legacy Recordings released Strange Euphoria, the first definitive career-spanning, multi-label boxed set retrospective chronicling the seminal American rock band Heart, personally curated by Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson.

A carefully-considered anthology of biggest hits and best-loved songs set alongside deep catalog treasures, rarities, demos and live performances, Strange Euphoria includes three compact discs and one DVD in a deluxe box.

Ann Wilson and her younger sister, Nancy Wilson, first showed the world that women can rock when their band Heart stormed the charts in the ’70s with hits like “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “Straight On,” “Even It Up,” “Kick It Out” and many more. Not only did the Wilson sisters lead the band, they wrote the songs and played the instruments, making them the first women in rock to do so. Heart continued topping the charts through the ’80s and into the ’90s with huge hits like “These Dreams,” “Alone,” “Never,” and a string of other hits that showcased the sisters’ enormous talents as both musicians and singers. Along the way, Heart sold more than 35 million records, had 21 top 40 hits, sold out arenas worldwide, and profoundly influenced the sound and direction of American rock music while inspiring women (and guys too!) around the world to rock out in bands of their own.

Heart were 2008 recipients of VH1 Rock Honors, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northwest Grammy Foundation, and received ASCAP’s award for Excellence in Songwriting in 2009.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Heart. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

HEART – STRANGE EUPHORIA (2012): Heart, like many legacy bands in the 1980s, struggled to marry its original sound with the synthesized style of the day. Strange Euphoria, a sweeping new compilation from Epic-Legacy, charts that journey, as Heart transforms itself from hippie-chick singer-songwriters, to feminist heavy rockers, to glossy MTV stars, and back again. Heart, like the title of this endlessly fascinating new box set, still boasts an abiding, very involving complexity. It’s good to be reminded.

HEART – RED VELVET CAR (2010): The first thing that’s evident from listening to Red Velvet Car is that in contrast to Clapton, the Wilson sisters are as rooted in the present-day sounds as they are to the music of the past, and maybe even more so. The second thing is that Ann Wilson’s voice is finally beginning to falter a bit: she’s lost some of her incredible range and there’s a residue of rasp in it that wasn’t there before. Those are two things that put this album below the level of their last one, 2006’s Jupiter’s Darling. On the other hand, Nancy’s power acoustic guitar remains in fine form, and she can still more than hold her own when battling crashing electric guitars for sonic space.

HEART – GREATEST HITS (1998; 2011 Audio Fidelity Remaster): The distractions when it comes to Heart (gender politics, obvious curtsies to Led Zeppelin, wall-to-wall 1980s power-ballads, etc.) are swept away with this single turned-up-to-11 instrumental interlude during “Magic Man.” I’m struck all over again by guitarist Roger Fisher’s ever-increasing distortion, just before a smeared prog rock-influenced keyboard descends from the heavens. Heart’s “Magic Man” (a No. 9 hit in 1976) has, right there inside of it, this brilliant piece of in-the-moment, well, magic — unlikely to happen again in the age of auto-tune, but buried for decades in a muddy pre-digital mix. Now, this small joy has been spit-shined into a revelatory moment, and it’s almost worth the price of admission itself. This band, you quickly realize all over again, wasn’t led by a couple of Girls Who Rocked. They were, simply, rockers. And very good ones, at that.

DEEP CUTS: HEART, “LOVE ALIVE” (1977): Coming right after the hard-charging “Barracuda,” the sisters ease up on the tempo a bit but not at all on the quality. “Love Alive” runs only a little over four minutes, but it’s a three-parter. The soft beginning kicks off with a winsome acoustic guitar motif, played in tandem by Nancy and (most probably) Roger Fisher. As Ann’s gentle, controlled and low-octave vocals begin, some Indian percussion joins in as well. Her first and second and verse is separated by a short flute interlude…also performed by Ann. Hard rock can sometimes get a little rough around the edges, and it needs a woman’s touch to smooth it out just a tad. There’s probably no women better for that job than the Wilson women when they are on their game like they are for “Love Alive.”

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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