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Music Review: Heart – Brigade

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Heart returned March 26, 1990 with their third album of slick pop/rock. Like its two predecessors, Brigade was a commercial smash, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Magazine Pop Album Chart.

The band members remained the same for the fourth album in a row. Lead singer Ann Wilson, guitarist/singer Nancy Wilson, keyboardist/guitarist Howard Leese, bassist Mark Andes, and drummer Danny Carmassi had settled in as a well-oiled unit. They again reached outside the band for their material as 9 of the 13 tracks were by other songwriters.

The album was a welcome return to more of a guitar sound, rather than the overblown keyboards of their last release. It also had a few harder rock tunes, making its overall sound closer to Heart than Bad Animals. The songs may not have the overall consistent quality of the two previously mentioned releases, but the album makes up for it by being the most consistent and best vocal performance by Ann Wilson, which given the quality of her past work is saying a lot.

There is a three-song stretch, tracks 2-4, where female vocals do not get any better. “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” reached number 2 on the American Singles Chart and was their last big hit single. It had controversial lyrics about a woman who has a one-night stand in order to get pregnant because her partner is unable to conceive. Wilson hits and holds the high notes with a clarity that is rarely equaled. “Secret” is a ballad about an illicit affair. The power of Ann’s voice is on full display. “Tall, Dark, Handsome Stranger,” which features another soaring vocal, completes the trio of tracks.

It was nice to have some rockers in the old Heart tradition. “Wild Child” was the album’s lead track, and the guitar sound makes it quickly apparent it will be the album’s instrument of choice. “The Night” is based on a series of power chords and is as close as they come to a pure hard rock sound. “Call Of The Wild” is another high octane rocker.

Brigade was the last of the three albums that would find Heart at their commercial peak. It remains not only a reminder of why they were one of the more popular bands in the world but also is an eternal document of one of the more stunning voices to grace rock music.

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