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Music Review: Heart – Passionworks

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Passionworks, released in 1983, was the second of two average, at best, albums by Heart. It followed Private Audition, which had been released the previous year. It only had moderate commercial success, reaching no higher than number 39 on the Billboard Magazine Pop Album Chart.

Longtime members Steve Fossen and Mike DeRosier had left the band and bassist Mark Andes and drummer Denny Carmassi were their replacements. The Wilson sisters and guitarist/keyboardist Howard Leese were the veterans of the band. Songwriter Sue Ennis returned as the co-writer on nine of the 11 tracks.

This was the last album due to the Epic label. The band would switch to Capital Records for its next release.

Any time an artist releases an album to fulfill a contract, a warning flag is raised. Nearly three decades later, it’s still unknown if Heart was serious about the album’s music or just going through the motions. Whatever their motivation, the group created one of the weaker albums of their career.

The album’s best song was the only one not written by a member of the band, which sort of sums up the overall quality of the release. Jonathan Cain of Journey was the composer of “Allies.” It was an excellent power ballad and a perfect vehicle for Ann Wilson’s voice, which just soars.

There were several tracks that may not have been among Heart’s best, but at least they were listenable. “How Can I Refuse” is acceptable hard rock and was composed by all the band members.

“Blue Guitar” is another rocker, although a bit slower. “Love Mistake” is a ballad where Nancy Wilson takes the vocal lead. The album concludes with the hard rocker “Ambush,” which looked back to some of their better work.

The rest of the songs range from album filler, like “Heavy Heart” and “Language Of Love,” to downright embarrassing, with “Johnny Moon” being one example.

Passionworks was released during August of ’83 and at the time, one would have thought Heart’s career was in decline and in a lot of trouble. Just a few years later, all of that would be forgotten. This is an album for fans who want everything Heart-related.

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