HEART – Magazine [Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 171 Numbered Edition] Out Of Print
Here we have a very interesting choice of album for Audio Fidelity specialists to tackle: “Magazine“, by HEART, remastered by Steve Hoffman and pressed on a wonderful sounding SACD.
“Magazine” was certainly commercially successful on its first release in Canada and the U.S., albeit in an unauthorized version that the record company released rather spitefully following fractious attempts by the group to renegotiate their contract.
In fact, it is the third album, that should have been second.
Winding back the clock a little throws some light on the situation. Perhaps also, it becomes a cautionary tale for bands trying to forge a career from their music, without due regard to ‘devil in the detail’ contracts, and the loss of artistic control.
With this success of their debut album behind them, Heart began demoing new songs for the second contractually obligated album. In the band’s estimation, their success put them into a good position from which to renegotiate their contract. Their label Mushroom Records thought otherwise, and the two parties slid into a long and nasty legal battle.
Work on the sessions ground to a halt. Heart left behind the unfinished tracks, and somehow managed to score a deal with Portrait Records. Starting from scratch, they completed what would become their record “Little Queen”.
On the side, however, Mushroom decided they had the right to cobble together the working demos, and a few live tracks, and release it as “Magazine”.
Remarkably, and provocatively, it came with a printed disclaimer pointing out that the album had been compiled without the group’s assent, but that the company wanted to make sure the public got to hear the songs!
It had sold quite well before Heart got wind of it, and the unauthorized edition was withdrawn. But in yet another legal move, Mushroom were then successful in getting the agreement of a judge in Seattle to verify that they had ownership of the tapes.
Somewhere along the line a compromise was reached, whereby Heart could go back into the studio, and do whatever they felt musically valid, to rescue the demos. This may have meant new takes, dubs, remixing, deleting or adding tracks.
The resulting album would retain the title “Magazine”, and would be owned by Mushroom. So, the mooted second album, became the third album.
This ‘authorised’ edition was released in April 1978. Surprisingly, it did quite well, reaching top twenty. Perhaps no one was more surprised than the band themselves.
The album kicks off with “Heartless” which is really the very template of Heart in rocking out mode, a cut that landed on the Top 40 charts. “Devil Delight” follows, a very tasty delight indeed, with slabs of dueling guitars and Ann wailing away in Force 10 mode.
“Just The Wine” is a gentle, lilting tune, with touches of mellotron and washes of real strings. Nancy’s gorgeous acoustic guitar holds it all together. It stills sounds great.
“Without You” is an interesting rendition of the classic Badfinger track from their No Dice album. Yup, the one Harry Nilsson turned into a classic. Ann’s vocals are incredible, she has the chops to belt out like Janis Joplin here.
Title track is a relatively laid back piece of AOR lifted by nice synth flourishes and some twisted guitar over a straight 2:4 beat. I always loved this tune.
“Here Song” is the sort of quiet and pensive track that Heart laced through their best albums. Nancy is one of the great acoustic players and when Ann has the chance to rein it in, she really shows her pipes.
The last two tracks are live: “Mother Earth Blues” is Heart airing their blues roots lively with a Led Zeppelin nod, slow and chugging, while album closer is the stomping, sincere take on the old chestnut “I’ve Got The Music In Me”.
This is a great mastering of some very vintage tapes. Steve Hoffman has done a remarkable job revisiting this album, and saving all that is good about it for the old die-hards and perhaps some new listeners.
The sonic dynamics are excellent, and really, the only downside is the troubled history that resulted in the stitched together nature of the album as it is.
If the last two tracks were deleted, and two other studio tracks added, this would have garnered much more respect and regard. So, the first six tracks are excellent, the closing two, well, they are of their time.
01 – Heartless
02 – Devil Delight
03 – Just The Wine
04 – Without You
05 – Magazine
06 – Here Song
07 – Mother Earth Blues
08 – I’ve Got The Music In Me
Ann Wilson – vocals, flute, acoustic guitar
Nancy Wilson – guitar, backing vocals
Roger Fisher – guitar
Howard Leese – guitars, keyboards, sitar, backing vocals
Steve Fossen – bass, backing vocals
Michael DeRosier – drums
Out Of Print