Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Hearts Beat As One

I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s Halloween. We actually had about 30 kids show up at our door looking for candy, which is higher than the amount of trick-or-treaters we usually get. Although I know some people who claim to get as many as 600 kids.

Here’s a double dose of the beguiling Ann and Nancy Wilson for Halloween. First up, a review I did of Heart’s latest CD, Red Velvet Car for the Illinois Entertainer a few months back. Then, it’s a rerun from last year’s 31 Songs For Halloween collection, featuring “Magic Man.”

Red Velvet Car

Ann and Nancy Wilson proved conclusively on the recent Lilith Fair tour that Heart has retained its performance firepower over the years, but recording a CD of new material is quite another challenge. Fortunately, Red Velvet Car, the band’s first effort in some time, shows the Wilson sisters working in a relaxed and confident mood rather than trying to blast their way back into the limelight. The songs they’ve come up with are low key, but well-crafted, and there’s a variety of musical styles.

A casual listener could be forgiven for thinking the melodic, acoustic-based “Hey You” is a new Sheryl Crow tune, while “Safronia’s Mark” harks back to the days when Heart covered Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle Of Evermore.” “WTF” is a solid hard rock track with a touch of The Who, and the hellish imagery of “Death Valley” is set to a gritty, but nuanced arrangement. Ann and Nancy weave intricate harmony vocals throughout the slinky opening track, “There You Go,” as well as amidst the funky guitars of “Wheels.” All in all, Red Velvet Car is worth the ride.

“Magic Man”

When Heart released its debut, Dreamboat Annie back in 1976, Ann and Nancy Wilson often dressed like they’d borrowed their wardrobe from a medieval sorceress. Maybe it was all those nights of covering Led Zeppelin during their bar band days. Their instant FM radio classic, “Magic Man,” describes a young woman’s dream-like encounter on a “cold gray night so long ago” with the blue-eyed mysterious title character, who promises to whisk her off to exotic adventures.

Although apprehensive, she feels like she already knows him, and when he offers to “cast my spell of love on you,” she’s hooked. The song, which includes an extended guitar and synthesizer jam, as well as Ann’s impressive vocals, doesn’t mention any tragic consequences, so maybe the woman was not to heed her mother’s misgivings.


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