Heart box set showcases demos, raritiesWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Strange Euphoria” (Epic Records/Legacy Recordings) is a treat for any Heart fan. The box set features three CDs, complete with 21 previously unreleased songs, and a DVD.
It all began in 1969 with “Through Eyes and Glass,” which was recorded by Ann Wilson & The Daybreaks. This early acoustic song shows the writing prowess of the siblings.
“When the record came out, they left my name off the songwriting credit,” Nancy wrote about the single in the liner notes. “They also misspelled the name of the band. But it was our welcome to the music business!”
The never-before-heard tracks make the set special. A nearly unplugged demo of “Magic Man” is a cool version of the rocker, which is more of a folk song here. And Ann unleashes that powerful voice and really lets it rip on a version of “Heartless” that was recorded at a sound check.
Always highlights are those two iconic guitar songs by the Wilson sisters. Of the demo “Crazy On You,” Ann wrote, “Nancy’s guitar on this track is what I think really set her on the planet as a guitarist of record.” The 1977 live version of “Barracuda” captures the intense energy of the track, which Nancy called “a great, galloping steed.”
“Bebe le Strange” was an early empowerment track, according to Nancy, and Ann noted they tried to “write a feminist anthem” with “Even It Up.”
John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin plays mandolin on a live version of “Never” from 1994. And fans learn that “These Dreams,” written by Bernie Taupin and Martin Page, originally was offered to Stevie Nicks, who turned it down. “I fought to get us to record it and for me to sing it,” Nancy wrote in the liner notes.
The box set also includes selections from Nancy’s 1999 disc “Live at McCabe’s Guitar Shop” and Ann’s 2007 release “Hope and Glory.”
Recorded in 1976, “The Second Ending Featuring Heart” DVD offers a nearly 60-minute show the band played at Washington State University right after the release of its debut album, “Dreamboat Annie.”
While the clothing and shape transition elements date the video, the music remains timeless.
“Strange Euphoria” chronicles the Wilson sisters’ creative process, proving women can rock and be commercial; Heart has sold more than 35 million records.