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Music Review: Heart – Desire Walks On

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Heart released Desire Walks On November 16, 1993. It was a return to a guitar-based-rock sound after three albums of slick pop/rock, which had sold millions of copies and enabled Heart to become one of the most successful bands in the world. This return to their old style coincided with the band members taking over a majority of the writing chores again. While the results were not as commercially successful as their previous three releases, it was still a solid release and a welcome return of the early Heart.

Longtime bassist Mark Andes had left the group but the core of lead vocalist Ann Wilson, guitarist Nancy Wilson, guitarist Howard Leese, and drummer Danny Carmassi remained intact. John Purdell provided the toned-down keyboards and Schuyler Dean played bass.

The first two songs blast out of the gate with chugging guitars and Ann’s soaring vocals. “Back On Black II” demonstrated that the hard-rocking Heart was back. “Back To Avalon” may have been a little more mellow, but it was nice, uptempo rock.

There are two excellent ballads in the Heart tradition. “The Woman In Me” is the best of the pair, as it features an emotional and sultry vocal by Ann. “Anything Is Possible” is a building power ballad, which Heart was so good at creating.

There are several other first-rate tracks. “Rage” is as hard as Heart rocks. It is a pulsating and pounding guitar attack that carries Ann’s voice along with it. “Voodoo Doll” is dark, progressive, and odd; yet has an appeal to it by virtue of the fact it is different from most of what Heart had released. The most interesting track is the Bob Dylan tune, “Ring Them Bells,” on which Ann duets with Layne Staley of Alice In Chains. It is a pairing that doesn’t look good on paper but sounds fine. Her clear vocal matches well with his haunting voice to create a memorable mix.

Desire Walks On may not be Heart’s best album, but it contains a lot of good rock ‘n’ roll. It is also a cohesive one as the tracks fit together well. And while it often does not receive enough credit, it holds up well and remains a good listen. This would be Heart’s last studio album for 11 years.

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