Sometimes listening to an album is like visiting an old friend; you reminisce about good times, bask in the familiar, yet still learn something new. That experience best describes hearing Heart: Greatest Hits, an overview of their career from 1976-1983. Audio Fidelity has issued this limited edition version, which features a 24 KT gold CD. This process, Audio Fidelity states, "reproduce[s] the ultimate sound of a classic recorded performance without the irregular plated surfaces of standard aluminum discs." While the album sounds crisp and clear, as if the band had recorded the material in 2011, it's the sheer power of Heart's music that endures.
In the mid-to-late 1970s, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson paved the way for female rockers in a then male-dominated genre. Ann's soaring vocals, tailor-made for their harder-edged songs, and Nancy's deft guitar playing, along with their ability to write memorable hooks, made for a winning combination. The over five-minute epic "Magic Man" still enchants with its crunching guitars, mysterious lyrics, and odd synthesizer solo; and what more is there to say about "Crazy on You," a true classic? In this remastered version, the drums and rhythm guitar particularly shine through, along with Ann's magnificent vocals. Ann's wailing over that slightly menacing guitar riff adds a hint of danger to the track. Strange lyrics aside (barracudas? Porpoises?), the galloping "Barracuda" invites comparisons to Led Zeppelin with Nancy's searing guitar and Ann's ability to modulate her voice from almost screaming to soothing, displaying similar emotional range to Robert Plant.
Not limiting themselves to Led Zeppelin-esque material, Heart experimented with the blues ("Little Queen") and folk ("Dreamboat Annie"). "Love Alive" represents a minor departure for the Wilson sisters, in that half of the track consists of just Ann singing over Nancy's acoustic guitar. When the tempo speeds up and the drums kick in, even adding a bit of flute, the song still does not stray far from folk territory. Heart also apparently admired the Rolling Stones, as "Straight On" at times resembles the gritty-yet-polished "Miss You." The remaster allows listeners to fully hear Ann and Nancy's harmonies, an underrated aspect of the group.