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Music Review: Heart – Dog & Butterfly

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Heart had completed their contractual obligations to their first label, Mushroom Records, and was now free to continue their recording career unhindered. The result was Dog & Butterfly, which was released October 7, 1978.

Heart was still a band comprised of the Wilson sisters, guitarist/keyboardist Howard Leese, lead guitarist Roger Fisher, bassist Steve Fossen, and drummer Mike DeRosier. The biggest addition to the group was Seattle songwriter Sue Ennis who co-wrote all of the album’s eight tracks. She has now written over 65 songs for the band.

Heart went in two directions with the album, which was clearer on the original vinyl release. The first four songs, which comprised the A-side, went in a rock direction. When you flipped the record over, the B side featured ballads and an acoustic sound. The album title was taken from the rocking “Dog” side and the ballad-oriented “Butterfly” side.

The album’s most famous song was “Straight On,” which was a top 20 hit on the American singles charts. It has a unique beat and Ann Wilson delivers a memorable vocal performance. The lead track, “Cook With Fire,” is a slow-building song that has Zeppelin-like guitars. “High Time” features more nice guitar work by Roger Fisher and Nancy Wilson, further cementing their reputation as one of the 1970’s finest guitar duos.

The ballads are the superior songs and form a nice, tight unit. The title song sets the tone with a nice acoustic guitar opening. “Lighter Touch” is a typical late 1970’s power ballad with piano, strings, and a guitar providing the foundation. The album closer is one of the strongest songs of the band’s career and does not receive enough notice today: “Mistral Wind” is swirling, melodic, and the lyrics tell a visual story. It is a haunting song about a ship sailing toward an unknown destination.

Dog & Butterfly further solidified Heart’s status as one of the more popular rock bands in the United States, with the album receiving a double platinum award for sales. The only downside of its release was that it would be Roger Fisher’s last with the band, and thus his guitar work would be missed. The album remains one of Heart’s better releases.

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