Dreamboat Annie

Heart

Capitol Records, 1976

http://www.heart-music.com/

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/09/2014

Nineteen seventy-six was the year that pop/rock really came into its own. The sister duo of Ann and Nancy Wilson broke through the male-dominated classic rock scene in a big way with their debut album Dreamboat Annie. The lengthy lead-off hit single “Magic Man” sets the tone with its epic, multi-part scope. It’s got chugging electric guitars, two part harmonies and even a synth solo to make it one highly dynamic affair. What more could a listener ask for? Quite an unexpected and thrilling way to launch a career, girls.

It certainly helped that Ann and Nancy were backed by a crackerjack band, which was initially comprised of Roger Fisher and Howard Leese on guitars, Steve Fossen on bass, Rob Deans on keyboards and multiple drummers too numerous to mention.

Believe it or not, there’s a track on Dreamboat Annie that’s even more multi-dimensional than “Magic Man,” and that’s “Soul Of The Sea.” And like the sea itself, it shifts in tone from gentle and flowing to stormy and crashing to a crescendo. Ann shows her stunning vocal range on the rocker that is “Crazy On You,” which has the honor of being the band’s very first my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Billboard Top 40 hit. The other single released from this first effort was the title track, which keeps popping up here in reprises as a connecting thread, though this is largely unnecessary and gets old quick. Producer Mike Flicker would have been better served getting some other songs out of Heart, instead of having them simply repeat themselves. That’s my major complaint about this set of tunes. There needs to be more of them.

What we do have is just enough for us to get a sense of what Heart is all about. Here, it’s all about establishing their sound and showing their potential, which they clearly have in spades. There was no way you were going to ignore a belter like Ann Wilson. Not even Pat Benatar could hold a candle to Ann’s talent. Sister Nancy would get the opportunity to show her own lead vocal chops on subsequent Heart releases (remember the #1 ballad “These Dreams” from a decade later?), but on this first effort, it was all about Annie. You can almost hear her mother imploring her to “Sing Child Sing,” on this album’s slinky jam with a similar title.

The good thing is there really aren’t any songs that can be classified as filler on Dreamboat Annie, which is quite a rarity in itself. But hey, with only 8 tracks, they really couldn’t afford any bum notes. On “White Lightning & Wine” we are treated to a beer-drenched honkytonk number, while “(Love Me Like Music) I’ll Be Your Song” is a gentle, dreamy and melodic slow song that is sure to cure any hangover. The same goes for the sweet “How Deep It Goes,” proving that rock doesn’t always have to be about bombast. Sometimes you need a reprieve from the heavy-handed, four-on-the-floor approach. Ann and Nancy didn’t have to be so obvious about the fact that they were women trying to compete in a marketplace that all but had a “Men Only” sign in the window. With their talent, all they had to do was sing and play. What they manage to achieve with Dreamboat Annie is that they not only had the guts…they also had Heart.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B+


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