Monday, February 16, 2015

Heart - Bebe le Strange

This weekend (February 14th) marked the thirty fifth anniversary of Bebe le Strange, the fifth studio album from Heart. This 1980 release hit number 78 in Australia and number 5 on the US Billboard Album chart. It spent twenty-two weeks total on the latter chart.

Side one starts with the title track. "Bebe le Strange", the second single, peaked at number 109 on the US Billboard chart. The lyrics tell of an obsessive groupie, and the music features a driving guitar riff from the Wilson sisters.

"Down on Me" features a blues-rock riff that is dark and foreboding. Nancy's vocals really ring out the emotion of this difficult relationship situation.

Next up is a light, acoustic instrumental track called "Silver Wheels"; it was included as the B-side to the second single.

"Break" is all about hitting the tipping point of frustration. The music has a quick-jab urgency to its rhythm, brining to mind a bit of the punk movement at the time.

"Rockin' Heaven Down" closes the side on up-tempo note. Listening to it, I envision someone who has just finished performing for a large audience of screaming fans.

Side two begins with "Even It Up" whose lyrics come from a woman who insists her lover reciprocate accordingly in the bedroom. The Tower of Power horn section helps to punch up this first single; the song went to number 56 in Canada and number 33 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

"Strange Night" is a rousing rocker about dressing up for a little romantic role-playing. I like the mix of the guitars and percussion on this one, especially towards the end.

"Raised on You" changes it up a bit, having a very prominent piano presence to the music. It really helps the track stand out from the others on the record.

The B-side to the first single was "Pilot". This one has a lighter, more pop-rock sound to it.

The original album closes with the mid-tempo love ballad "Sweet Darlin'".

The 2004 re-mastered CD edition included two bonus tracks. The first was a live version of "Break" and the other was a studio outtake "Jackleg Man".

Outside of the big hits, I wasn't so much into Heart during the 70's and early 80's - mostly because of the type of music I was into at the time. There were two outlets for my hearing Bebe le Strange back in the early 1980's. The first was, of course, album-oriented rock radio which I listened to every now and again. The other was my older brother whose vinyl collection had a heavy focus on the acts that appeared on those stations.

For more from Heart, click here.

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