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Music Review: Heart – Magazine

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Heart’s first album was a smash hit, reaching number seven on the United States album charts and receiving a platinum award for sales. Heart quickly went back into the recording studio and cut five tracks for their second release. All seemed fine until the band asked their Mushroom label for a royalty or pay increase. When the label refused, Heart broke their two-record contract and released their second album on the Portrait label.

Mushroom took the five completed songs, added two live tracks, plus a Canadian single B side and released Magazine during April of 1977. Heart promptly sued, forcing the recall of 50,000 albums. Mushroom then counter-sued Heart, stating they owed the label a second album. Heart agreed to fulfill the contract and tinkered with the album. Magazine was re-released April 22, 1978.

It all ended well for Heart. The album received another platinum award for sales, they fulfilled their contract, and Mushroom went out of business during the early 1980’s.

Heart was still very much a band at this point in their career. In addition to the Wilson sisters, drummer Michael DeRosier, guitarist Roger Fisher, bassist Steve Fossen, and keyboardist Howard Leese were band members for the third release in a row.

Given its history, Magazine turned out to be a credible album. It may not be in the upper echelon of Heart albums, but it was a solid release.

There were five Wilson compositions. “Heartless” was the only single released and it reached number 24. It may not have been the best rock song they ever produced but again it was solid. “Devil Delight” is a nice guitar/vocal tune. Fisher and Nancy Wilson were an underrated 1970’s guitar duo. My favorite track is “Just The Wine” which is a ballad with strings that was a good vehicle for Ann Wilson’s voice.

The three cover songs are interesting. “Without You” was written by Peter Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger but it was Harry Nilsson who had the big hit with it. His version reached number one on the American charts and stayed there for four weeks. Heart’s take on the song is okay but it does not match Nilsson’s. “Mother Earth Blues” is one of the live tracks and has a nice bluesy feel. The other live song was a cover of Kiki Dee’s “I’ve Got The Music In Me” that Heart just rocks through.

Magazine gets lost in the Heart catalogue today as there are a number of better stops. Still, it remains a good listen every once in awhile.

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