Review : HEART - Strange Euphoria
Seattle PiThe 17 tracks on disc one are a case in point. It opens with "Through Eyes and Glass" by Ann Wilson & The Daybreaks, followed by an acoustic demo of "Magic Man." Then, the set features folk rock songs like "Dreamboat Annie," "Love Alive," and "Sylvan Song." Each has more in common with Joni Mitchell and Janis Ian than they do the harder sounds of other lady pioneers like Fanny, Suzi Quatro, or Pat Benatar. If you want out-and-out rock, that comes in a live version of "Barracuda" from a BBC Radio Concert. For half the disc, the emphasis on demos shows a band finding its way with then-new material in process. Occasionally a forgotten nugget pops out that shows the full potential of Heart. For example, "Dream of the Archer" really brings the possibilities together with crystalline vocals, superb guitar work, and almost Celtic lyrics matched with a haunting musical setting.
All MusicIt's almost astonishing that it took until 2012 for Strange Euphoria, the first multi-disc retrospective box set of Heart's five-decade-plus career, to arrive. The set contains three CDs and a live concert DVD entitled "The Second Ending," shot between February and March of 1976 for Washington State's KSWU-TV. Strange Euphoria is nearly everything a retrospective like this should be. It's packaged in a square white slipcase with the band's logo embossed in silver, and a die-cut heart dead center. The discs are encased in a quadra-fold cover, illustrated with a photo collage of album covers, band shots, singles, posters, etc. The 60-page book contains lots of rare photos, but most importantly, it features a track-by-track commentary from Ann and Nancy Wilson on the songs they chose for the box. In a sense, these poignant observations are a teaser for both their forthcoming autobiography, Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll, to be issued in September, and their upcoming album Fanatic, due in October 2012. The song choices here are chock-full of hits, balanced by numerous rarities, demos, and live cuts. Figuring fans had the hits, the Wilson sisters chose to focus on the demos of iconic tracks as "Magic Man," "How Deep It Goes," "Crazy on You," "Heartless," "Dog & Butterfly," "Desire Walks On," "Under the Sky," etc., from all different periods in the band's history. ...full text
Blog CriticsWhat more could any Heart lover ask for? A luscious box set that includes three generous CDs, a bonus disc, a live DVD, and a full-size paperback book of photos and memories?
Well, don’t throw out your favorite previous albums like Dreamboat Annie, Little Queen, or any greatest hits package you might have just yet. While Strange Euphoria is billed as the “definitive” collection, you’re not going to hear the more familiar versions of “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You,” or “Heartless.” By design, the emphasis is on rarities, demo versions of Heart’s biggest hits, live performances, and never before released tracks. But this isn’t to say the set is for Heart completists only. Rather, it’s for anyone who enjoys the gentler side of pop.
Did he just say gentle? Yes. For those who remember Ann and Nancy Wilson best for being queens of ‘70s arena rock with iconic guitar leads and hooks, the songs here are reminders of the full range of the Wilson sisters’ canon. Again, this is by design with material rarely, if ever, given any airplay....full text
The Morton ReportThere have been Heart compilations in the past, but none as extensive as Strange Euphoria. For the first time ever, Ann and Nancy Wilson have personally selected the tracks, digging deep into their archive of demos and live material. Of the 51 tracks spread across three CDs, 21 are previously unreleased. The extensive liner notes are comprised of track-by-track commentary written by the Wilson sisters. The DVD contains a concert taped for Washington State University’s KWSU-TV in early 1976, right around the release of Heart’s debut album, Dreamboat Annie.
A word to the wise, the version available from Amazon includes a fourth CD, which is an EP called Zeppish. The disc contains five Led Zeppelin covers, including previously unreleased recordings of “Going to California” (from 2008) and “What Is and What Should Never Be” (recorded in 1994 with John Paul Jones). This extra 24 minutes of music make this version the one to seek out....full text
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