Sunday, February 14, 2016

Heart - Dreamboat Annie

Today (February 14th) marks the fortieth anniversary of the world-wide release of Dreamboat Annie, the debut album from Heart. This followed the debut in the band's native Canada from late in the summer of 1975, where it went all the way to number 20. The Platinum selling 1976 release hit number 36 in the UK, number 9 in Australia and number 7 on the US Billboard Album chart (with a total chart run of one hundred weeks).

Side one opens with the now classic "Magic Man". As the second single, it peaked at number 26 in Canada and number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The lyrics tell the tale of a younger woman seduced by the experienced ways of an older man. The guitar riff as laid down by Nancy and the enchanting vocals by Ann really cast a spell that still holds up four decades later. Howard Leese's synth also gives the song a very out-of-this-world sound.

"Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child)" is a short one minute plus acoustic prelude to the full version of the title track that would come later.

"Crazy On You" was released as the album's first single in 1975. It went to number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 25 in Canada. It carries over the acoustic elements from the previous track in its opening before blowing up into a full throttle rock number at forty-five seconds in. Ann has said that the song was written in response to the Vietnam War and social unrest in the United States during the early 70's. The lyrics tell of the desire to forget about the world around them with a night of unbridled passion.

"Soul of the Sea" is the longest track on the record, clocking in at over six and a half minutes. It is a beautiful, swaying suite with a lot of layering elements to it that give it a rich, vibrant texture. In a lot of ways, I can see how it would have been inspired by the progressive rock of the late 60's and early 70's.

While first heard as the B-side to the lead single, "Dreamboat Annie" was then released as the third single in 1976. It sailed to number 53 in Canada, number 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 17 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The album version is actual shorter than the single release, clocking in at just over two minutes. The banjo elements of this one really standout for me, something you do not hear in many rock songs. But the 70's was all about the blending of different sounds for interesting effects.

Side two begins with "White Lightning and Wine", a rock track with a rather funky flavor to it thanks to the percussion and bass guitar.

Things wind down a bit with "(Love Me Like Music) I'll Be Your Song", a sweet and intimate ballad with an orchestra arrangement.

The B-side to the third single was "Sing Child", a searing rocker that features some heavy, smoking guitar work. The bridge features Ann on the flute.

"How Deep It Goes" was the B-side to the second single. It too has a rich orchestra arrangement to it as well, creating a sweeping sound.

The album closes with "Dreamboat Annie (Reprise)", the longest variant of the song here at close to four minutes in length. The piano as played by Roy Deans is most prominent on this lighter pop rendition.

The tracks from Dreamboat Annie, particularly the singles, were mainstays of the album-oriented rock stations I heard during my teenaged years. My older brother also owned a copy of it on vinyl. Listening to it again today via Spotify just takes me back to my days of growing up in a small western New York town. It is another classic debut album that still holds up.

For even more from Heart, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

One of the better debut albums of all-time!

All three singles you mentioned got lots of airplay on the mighty WLS out of Chicago, one after the other and I believe all three were Top 10 hits on their weekly record store surveys.
Yup, just double-checked and all three songs peaked in their Top 10 as singles.
"Crazy On You" (2:58) #3
"Magic Man" (2:45) #7
"Dreamboat Annie" (2:45) #8

On WLS "Crazy On You" did not have its acoustic intro, "Magic Man" just fades out about halfway through the album version of the song and poor "Dreamboat Annie" had that unused acoustic intro from "Crazy On You" spliced onto it.

But I didn't know any of that until Dad bought Dreamboat Annie one weekend at Musicland at Market Place Mall in Champaign, Illinois after hearing the song "Dreamboat Annie" on the radio. We were both a little surprised to hear the album versions of songs we only knew as singles. Quite a revelation and actually more of a shock for my father as he decided he didn't like the album after a few listens and it became the first LP he ever gave me outside of my birthday, Easter, Report Card Day or Christmas. Still have it on the Vinyl Wall.

Dad did like the "Dreamboat Annie" single though and he purchased it a few weeks later but like I have mentioned before, sometime in the late Nineties or early 2000s, he tossed his entire collection of 45s, dating from the Fities through the Eighties, in the dumpster behind his work one morning because he didn't think I would want them because I was "so into CDs" and he no longer had any room for them because he was hoarding computer magazines and all the free discs that came with them.

Forty years, Martin? Really?
Thanks for the memories.