The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


Concorde Records | Release Date: July 8th 2016


BOOKS & DVD'S 2009-2014 

Heart’s ‘NEW’ album ‘Beautiful Broken’ isn’t exactly that – comprising of seven reworked songs from their own back catalogue and just three new tracks. On face value then their debut recording for the Concord label doesn’t seem to be something to get too excited about, but you’d be wrong…


Sure the fad for ‘rerecording’; ‘rethinking’ or ‘reimagining’ might be the new ‘live acoustic’ flavour of the month and has already pretty much been done to death, and sure it makes sense to the artists: little or no effort required to jazz up a few well-worn numbers and regurgitate and make excited noises about ‘new leases of life’ and so forth…


But here Heart has actually managed to take some pretty overlooked and even a couple of seemingly drab songs (as well as a few live favourites) and polish them up nicely. The problem originally of course was with the production, and back in the early eighties Heart suffered more than most at the mixing desk: rendering albums like ‘Passionworks’ and ‘Private Audition’ pretty hard listens these days. And it’s from these two albums and ‘Bebe Le Strange’ (which I always liked) that the majority of the reworked songs come – two from each.


‘Passionworks’ brace ‘Johnny Moon’ and ‘Language of Love’ actually come out pretty damned well, stripped of their eighties almost ‘patent shine’. ‘Johnny Moon’ is now a little deeper, darker and replete with great harmonies it’s almost like a new work entirely, whilst ‘Language of Love’ has some great strings and is far more sure-footed than the original and a great dreamy way to close the album.


With a sound that like Zeppelin always sought to be part Hard Bluesy Rock and part Folk Heart these days seem to have finally eased into a sound that is as close to that desire as it has ever been. And the fact that they can take these songs and turn them into, without exception, something bolder and better shows how confident they are as musicians now that they have stopped following trends.


One of the best examples of this sure-footedness is the slowed down ‘City’s Burning’ given an almost funky, orchestrated Hard Rock treatment that works so well. Even with the songs that fared better originally like Bébé le Strange‘s ‘Down on Me’ you get a jolt at what has been done, it’s now a great slow bluesy rock song ironically (due to the title) not a million miles away from what a modern day Janis might sound like. Ann Wilson’s voice gets better with each passing year.


Elsewhere the same album’s ‘Sweet Darlin’’ falls back on beautiful strings and Ann’s vocal might even shade it as the best on the album. Nancy’s best vocal moment comes on new song ‘Two’ a ballad written by modern R&B star Ne-Yo. Heart doesn’t need to bring in outside writers. It’s far from the best song here and the worst of the new material with ‘Heaven’ far superior – coming across like Zeppelin although it’s not really a new track either appearing on the Live DVD ‘Live in Seattle’ a few years back.


It’s the same with the odd man out and the one that will gain most attention: ‘Beautiful Broken’ a remake of the ‘Fanatic’ bonus track from 2012 with James Hetfield sharing lead vocals – and of course it is the heaviest thing here!


The final new track ‘I Jump’ is pretty cool too; with a nice heavy vibe and plenty of grit making you wonder what comes next. This isn’t the best Heart album of recent years but it’s the best sounding album they’ve probably ever produced. It balances rock and the more delicate side of the band beautifully and as a stop-gap it’s a more than welcome addition to your collection.



by Mark Rockpit



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