Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stevie Nicks - The Wild Heart

This week (June 10th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of The Wild Heart, the second studio album from Stevie Nicks. This 1983 release went double-Platinum in the US after peaking at number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 200. It also charted at number 28 in the UK, number 19 in Sweden, number 17 in New Zealand, number 8 in Australia and number 7 in Canada.

Side one opens with the title track which was also the B-side to the second single. The mid-tempo “Wild Heart” features a powerful piano base and persistent percussion.

The second single “If Anyone Falls” went to number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 8 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Whenever I heard this one on radio back in the day, which was often, I always like the phrasing on the vocals - the very slight pauses - that give this one an interesting rhythm.

“Gate and Garden” too plays with varying rhythms, going from slower on the verses to more up-tempo on the chorus. The lyrics, to me, speak about protecting one’s heart from being hurt. The garden symbolizes a wonderful place where things can grow, but the gate symbolizes that caution and protective aspect.

“Enchanted” cast its spell on the US Mainstream Rock chart and reached number 12. Musically, the song has a bit of a country twang to it thanks to Roy Bittan’s rollicking piano and the blend of the guitars and drums. Waddy Wachtel lays down the guitar solo here.

“Nightbird”, the third single, roosted at number 39 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 32 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Sandy Stewart, who also co-wrote the track with Nicks, sang background vocals and played keyboards here. David Foster also played piano on the track. I like the whole mysterious painted by this one musically; it also reminds me a little bit of “Rhiannon“ which Nicks wrote and recorded with Fleetwood Mac in 1976.

Side two starts with “Stand Back”. As the first single, it went to number 32 in Germany, number 29 in the Netherlands, number 20 in Australia, and number 10 in Canada. In the US, it went to number 12 on the Billboard Dance chart, number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 2 on the Mainstream Rock chart. This is one of those songs I find myself singing along with the chorus whenever it comes on the radio; I like the pulsing energy on it. It features the guitar work of Toto’s Steve Lukather and unaccredited synthesizer playing by Prince. Nicks has gone on record to say that the song was inspired by hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on a car radio.

On “I Will Run To You”, Nicks was joined by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers which helped it go to number 35 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. Since he also wrote the track, it definitely has that signature Petty vibe to it.

“Nothing Ever Changes” also charted on the US Mainstream Rock chart and went to number 19. Eagles’ guitarist Don Felder performed on this track. The music and lyrics have a sharp, dangerous edge to them. The percussion near the opening sounds like the rattle of a snake, a deadly warning.

Nicks‘ Fleetwood Mac band mate Mick Fleetwood plays the drums on “Sable on Blonde”.

The final track “Beauty and the Beast” was inspired by the 1946 French film of the same title by Jean Cocteau, one of Nicks’ favorite classic films. This lullaby has a lush string section that includes one harp, four violas, four cellos, and over a dozen violins.

I certainly remember the radio hits and the cover from The Wild Heart back in 1983. While it may not have been Stevie Nicks’ most successful solo efforts, I think it is certainly a good record. The songs have a very personal feel to them.

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