Asked by The Examiner’s Justin Tedaldi to select a group that ought to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ann Wilson quickly named Rush — though it was harder for her to determine just why her band Heart hasn’t been so honored, either.
After all, Heart, which has sold more than 30 million albums, is one of the genre’s most enduring bands — having scored Top 10 Billboard album hits four decades, the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s and 2010s. Their biggest hits include No. 9 “Magic Man,” No. 4 “Never” and No. 1 “These Dreams.”
In all, Heart — which is co-led by Ann’s sister Nancy — have garnered 20 Top 40 singles, and received four Grammy nominations. They were belatedly named one of the 2012 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but did not gain entrance.
Meanwhile, Rush has been similarly ignored, and over a longer period. That’s led to a string of angry fan columns, drunkenly hilarious YouTube videos, well-attended booster rallies, terrific blog tirades and a series of petitions.
All, alas, to no avail. Wilson, who jumpstarted her music career in Rush’s native Canada, is at a loss.
“How about Rush?” Wilson tells Tedaldi. “That’s sort of a strange situation. … That would be the one that would be a big standout for me.”
[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: The career-spanning set ‘Strange Euphoria’ shows how Heart transformed itself from hippie-chick singer-songwriters, to feminist heavy rockers, to glossy MTV stars, and back again.]
As for when Heart might earn their own trip to the Hall, Wilson is just as non-plussed.
“Oh God, I have no idea. I really don’t know,” she offers. “I don’t know what kind of political situation goes on behind the scenes with that. If it happens, I sincerely hope it happens at a time when we are still out there being current as a rock band. I wouldn’t want it to wait for 10 years from now or 15 years from now when we’re kind of sitting in rocking chairs and then they haul them out to the Rock Hall, you know?”
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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.”