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Epic Records and Legacy Recordings proudly announce the release of Strange Euphoria, the first definitive career-spanning, multi-label boxed set retrospective chronicling the seminal American rock band Heart, personally curated by Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson.
A carefully-considered anthology of biggest hits and best-loved songs set alongside deep catalog treasures, rarities, demos and live performances. Strange Euphoria consists of three compact discs, one DVD, and a bonus CD of five Led Zeppelin cover tracks in a deluxe box.
Top Customer Reviews
The purpose of this collection is mainly to highlight Ann and Nancy Wilson's songwriting.
So it draws consistently from their first albums in the 70s and early 80s, when they wrote arguably most of their best material and the band was at the top of their game, playing fresh, often semi-acoustic arrangements which suited like a glove the sisters' beautiful singing (mainly Ann's but also Nancy) and guitar playing (mostly Nancy, but Ann plays some wonderful acoustic on occasion).
The collection addresses very briefly (and thanks God for that) the heavy metal/heavy production material from mid 80s to early 90s, when Heart did have quite a few hits actually, often with songs written by other composers. But Ann and Nancy don't seem to look back to that period with great fondness, and for a reason, as in the eighties the music industry seemed mostly interested in exploiting their good looks and stage presence - while their songwriting was being put aside a bit.
"Strange Euphoria" sets the record straight. It gathers their finest things, along with various unreleased acoustic demos or rare live versions which enhance the beauty and the purity of the songs; and it leaves out most of their bombastic and synthetic tracks (and even some hit singles) from the power-pop era.
So it may not be an "objective" anthology, nor a greatest hits, and yes it does leave out some of their big anthems; but it certainly is a personal, almost intimate selection of material from the artists' point of view; and I'm thankful they did it that way.
PS: The DVD (a 1976 television broadcast) is a fine addition; the book has lots of beautiful pictures and track-by-track recollections from Ann and Nancy; and if you order the Amazon Exclusive version you will also get "Heart Zappish", a 5-tracks CD of Led Zeppelin covers.
A career-spanning box set is always a difficult proposition. As a diehard Heart fan, I knew that all of my favorite songs would not be represented. Frankly, it's a no-win scenario because you can't please everyone. What Ann and Nancy have done, however, in curating this first-ever Heart set is provide a nice balance of hits, deep tracks, demos, and fan favorites.
Disc 1 finds demos of "Through Eyes And Glass," a rare 1968 recording that gives us the earliest audio window into Ann and Nancy's musical kingdom. Demos of "Magic Man," "Crazy On You and "How Deep It Goes," originally featured on the excellent 1976 Heart debut "Dreamboat Annie," are interesting to hear in their virgin states. The former, in particular, features a different vibe all-together and features acoustic guitar more prominently. Disc 1 also includes a energy-driven live recording of "Barracuda," the duality of "Love Alive" and a demo of the lilting title track to 1978's "Dog & Butterfly." Speaking of which, fan-favorite (and one of my personal favorites), "Nada One" -- a Nancy-sung song from that album -- is also included. This track is quintessential Heart in its form and beauty -- I'm glad this gem is here. (Strangely absent, as has been noted by other Heart Mongers, is the excellent "Mistral Wind.)
Disc 2 spans 1980's "Bebe Le Strange" to 1994's "Desire Walks On." Career-defining hits such as "Even It Up," "Alone" and "These Dreams" are rightfully featured. Also of note are deep cuts such as "Angels" (from 1982's overlooked "Private Audition") and "Love Mistake" (a lovely Nancy song from 1983's "Passionworks"). The calling card for this disc is the inclusion of a few unreleased demos: "Unconditional Love," "High Romance," and "Desire Walks On." As a big fan of the "Brigade" album, I miss the inclusion of "Stranded." And "How Can I Refuse?" is absent -- one of my favorite all-time Heart songs. Listeners should take extra notice of the '80s-era diamond, "Wait For An Answer" -- this is an Ann Wilson vocal performance for the ages.
Disc 3 may be my favorite. First, Ann and Nancy's '90s side project is represented through songs such as "Kiss" and the emotive "Sand." There are a pair of solo tracks -- Nancy's beautiful "Everything" (from the amazing Nancy Wilson solo album, "Live At McCabe's Guitar Shop") and "Little Problems, Little Lies" (from Ann Wilson's great "Hope And Glory" album. "Any Woman's Blues," an unreleased demo, made me scratch my head as to how it has never seen the light of day until now -- what a cool tune! Recent Heart music is here as well. There are a handful of tracks from Heart's fantastic 2004 album, "Jupiter's Darling," including a great live version of "Lost Angel." Their most recent album, 2010's "Red Velvet Car," is featured via "Queen City" and "Hey You." Both are excellent representations of a great album in the Heart oeuvre.
I ordered the Amazon version given the inclusion of the "Zeppish" EP. By now it's no secret that the best Led Zeppelin covers continue to be performed by Ann and Nancy Wilson. This EP contains five choice recordings of "The Battle Of Evermore," "Going To California," "What Is And What Should Never Be," "Immigrant Song," and "Misty Mountain Hop." These covers are spirited and fresh -- I'd like to think Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would heartily approve. "The Battle Of Evermore" is worth the price of admission alone.
But wait, there's more ... The set also includes a DVD. "The Second Ending Featuring Heart" is a 1976 concert performance recorded at Washington State University's TV station. This performance serves as a reminder at just how amazing Heart were as a live entity, even in their embryonic stage. (Again, do yourself a favor and see them live today if they hit your town.)
The bottom line: With a band such as Heart and so many great songs from which to choose, it's impossible to cover everything, but this set comes damn close. As Heart are about to unleash a new album ("Fanatic" is coming in October), this box set provides a nice opportunity to sit back, reflect and experience their rich music catalog. It's a selection of music every serious fan should have in their collection, be it physical set or digital version. Speaking of which, extra points go to Ann and Nancy for ensuring an awesome package. Everything from the artwork, presentation and personal commentary is top-notch. But with Ann and Nancy Wilson, I expected no less.
For longtime fans, this is a chance to experience new versions (demos and live tracks) of songs that have made up a large portion of the `soundtrack of our lives', and also to hear some new (to us) songs, never before released. Spanning the pre-Heart days, through the commercial successes in the 70s, 80s and early 90s, and on into the works of The Lovemongers and back to Heart in its current form. This is a chronicle of the amazing career of Heart. The CD/DVD set comes with a book of notes written by Ann and Nancy providing their perspective on each track...a must read!
As icing on the cake, a bonus CD of Zeppelin tracks (Ann does Zeppelin better than Plant does Zeppelin - true).
These tracks really showcase the breadth of talent these two women possess. No one plays acoustic guitar like Nancy Wilson, no one! There are a few artists (guitar players) who, when you hear three notes, you just know who played them. Nancy is one of those artists. Then there is Ann. Quite possibly the greatest Rock and Roll vocalist ever; not the greatest `female' vocalist, the greatest vocalist! She is in a class of her own.
As a lifelong fan, this one means a LOT! Special thanks for the inclusion of Avalon (that song has more importance to me than any other).