The Wilson Sisters Strip The Paint Off To Reveal A Beautiful Broken Heart With Metallica's James Hetfield Guesting
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Michael Foley

michael foley


This might make you feel ancient, but Heart have been around for over 40 years, and in fact 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of their debut LP, the classic 'Dreamboat Annie'. Over the years since that release the group have released fifteen studio albums, with 'Beautiful Broken' now making it sixteen.

Although many of their albums have been huge commercial hits - Heart have sold over 35million records - some have suffered from less than perfect production, especially those recorded in the 1980s, a decade notorious for music that was so technically perfect and recorded in such a pristine manner that much of what made rock n' roll exciting was missing. This is probably because the record labels wanted "perfection" for the new fangled Compact Discs that were the hi-fi must have of that decade.

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'Beautiful Broken' is Heart founders', sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, way of atoning for some of the sins of their musical past, by revisiting and reimagining a number of songs from the group's back catalogue and giving them the performances and production that they deserve.

As Heart bassist, and with Nancy the albums co-producer, Dan Rothchild explains: "On these classics, some of which had suffered from eighties-era over-editing- production-curse, we stripped the paint off and found the beauty underneath."

As the majority of the older songs are from 'Passionworks', 'Bebe Le Strange', and 'Private Audition', one can only agree with his words.


In the main this album succeeds in its mission, as the music has a vibrancy and passion missing from the original recordings. This is thanks in no small part to the album being recorded by the band playing together in the studio on the basic tracks, giving the songs an atmospheric live feel, and it sounds like overdubs have been kept to a minimum, apart from strings when used.

The biggest surprise on the album is the title track, originally released as a bonus on the previous Heart album 'Fanatic'. Here is given a radical rearrangement, and coupled with extra lyrics from guest vocalist James Hetfield, makes it virtually a new song. Ann Wilson and the Metallica frontman sing fabulously on the song, their different styles complementing each other to great effect.

I like that this album isn't a retread of their greatest hits and instead rummages around in the nooks and crannies of the Heart back catalogue. It's a fine reminder of some half forgotten older tunes, and it's a tribute to the Wilson sisters current creative Indian Summer that the handful of new songs blend seamlessly with the older numbers.

Hardcore Heart fans will love this album while for the more casual fan (moi) 'Beautiful Broken' is simply an excellent Rock n' Roll LP that gets a well deserved four MetalTalk Pints.


Beautiful Broken (with James Hetfield)
Sweet Darlin'
I Jump
Johnny Moon
City's Burning
Down On Me
One Word
Language Of Love

Our review of Heart's gig in Glasgow on Sunday night is now online here.

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