Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Heart gets thumping again with new album, tranquil attitude

By Edna Gundersen,
USA TODAY
August 25, 2010

Straight on -- in a new direction: Heart's Nancy Wilson, front, and Ann Wilson
Photo: Dan MacMedan  USA Today
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Even as rock music struggles to regain its early vitality and creative pulse, Heart isn't losing heart. After 35 years, the Seattle band that blazed a trail for female rockers refuses to coast or pull over.
On Tuesday, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, the group's only remaining founders, unveil 13th studio album Red Velvet Car, their first since 2004's Jupiter's Darling.

Intimate, intense and anchored by Ann's powerhouse vocals and Nancy's aggressive acoustic guitar, the album recalls such groundbreaking works as 1976 debut Dreamboat Annie, 1977's Little Queen and 1978's Dog & Butterfly.

Car may be new, but the odometer is maxed out.

"This is a traveling album with old-fashioned grooves and songs that have to do with where we've been," says Ann, 60, pointing to road tunes Wheels and Death Valley.

Lyricist Nancy, 56, says the transit theme is literal and figurative, personal and universal.

"It's the ache and loneliness of modern life," she says, huddled next to Ann on a couch in the Sunset Marquis hotel bar. "The character of the world now seems to be travel. There's less a feeling of the stay-at-home family that plays Monopoly or even watches TV together. Everyone disappears into private technology. You're in a vehicle, in a comfort zone, on your way through something."

The Wilsons, who've toured all summer and have dates booked through 2010, know a thing or two about travel. Daughters of a Marine father, they moved frequently as kids but didn't learn how to live out of a suitcase until rock stardom set them on a continuous cycle of recording and touring. They've sold more than 30 million albums and piled up 21 top 40 hits, starting in the '70s with Crazy on You, Barracuda, Magic Man and Straight On.

Their legacy and finances secure, they could easily retire or ride the oldies circuit.

"They've got fire and commitment and never want to lose the idea that they are creative, vital musicians," says Car producer Ben Mink, who also produced albums by K.D. Lang, Feist and Barenaked Ladies, as well as Ann's 2007 solo disc, Hope & Glory. "Their talent is off the map, and a lot of it comes from being natural. They're like the Everly Brothers. They don't really have to work out harmonies. They just read each other's genetic code."

And while contemporary hitmakers rely on Auto-Tune, Pro Tools and drum machines, Heart kept the beat without studio pacemakers.

"You have to acknowledge that it's 2010, but you can't get too clever with technology," Mink says. "Their fans are too smart and have too much history with Heart. I tried to get incredible performances, something that's honest to the moment and keeps the integrity."

Playing to their strengths

With rock mired in radio silence and sluggish sales, will Red Velvet Car roll off the lot?

"I have a naïve belief that if something is honest and catchy and good, it will make it out in the world," Mink says.

Ann laments how waning radio support sends so many worthy records into a "black hole."

"The business is hard to pin down, and everyone is scrambling to be heard," she says.

Heartened by positive reaction, including a thumbs-up in Rolling Stone, "it feels like there might be a snowball's chance in hell this time," Nancy says. "If it can get from us to people's ears without stalling in between, it will be fine.

"There's an appreciation for bands that are human," she says. "People tell us, 'Wow, you actually sing and play!' Pop acts are going by so quickly, the sense of disposability is overwhelming. The sound of pop today is stunning. It's found a whole new color in music. But it's about the sound, not about people."

Mink got to the heart of Heart by focusing on, but not exaggerating, core strengths.

"It was gratifying to hear us sound like us," Ann says. "Most other producers we worked with said, 'Come on, Ann, just belt it out, knock down the wall with your voice.' Ben was more, 'Hold back, let's bring your soul out. You don't have to be a sledgehammer.' That was valuable to me."

The trio's ethic of going for sincerity, bold acoustic rock and a vibrant live sound embodied "pre-'80s Heart," Nancy says.

The '80s delivered Heart's only chart-toppers, 1985's self-titled album and singles These Dreams and Alone, plus such hits as Who Will You Run To, Never and What About Love. But it's not a phase they embrace with unconditional pride. Adapting to the MTV revolution, they tilted toward pop, collaborated with outside writers, joined the parade of video vixens and "slightly bruised our holy artistic integrity," Nancy jokes.

The early days had been tough enough in a male-dominated genre that tended to see women as eye candy or not at all. Heart's first label fanned rumors that the Wilsons were lesbian lovers in a risqué tabloid-style ad depicting the bare-shouldered pair above the caption: "Heart's Wilson Sisters Confess: 'It Was Only Our First Time!' "

"We felt exploited every single minute," Ann says. "We have always fought it by taking every opportunity to be ourselves. We'd get nasty and say stuff people wish we wouldn't.

"In the '80s, our band was fading away, and we thought we'd have to jump overboard. The subservience is so insidious, sometimes you don't see it happening until you look around and go, 'wait, I'm wearing a corset, I've got on false fingernails and stilettos, and my back's killing me. Why am I doing this?' "

Nancy interjects, "And I'm paying the bill for two days of inordinately expensive video!"

"It was a survival technique," Nancy says. "New hair, new management, get the stylist, reinvent. It was a fun costume party at first, but by the end of the '80s, because it had been such a cocaine- and ego-driven thing, it devoured itself. We ran back to Seattle with our tail between our legs, in debt even though we'd made more money than ever."

During the video chapter, Ann, who had put on pounds since Heart's arrival, was swaddled neck to ankles and pressured by record executives and even band members to lose weight. While annoyed by the fixation on her heft rather than her hefty voice, she was more riled by the industry's handling of Nancy.

"It stuck in my craw that they treated her as a sex object because she's a beautiful blond woman," Ann says. "It was always, 'Come on, babe, simper for us.' The worst stereotypic, sleazy, greasy things. Once we got to the end of our rope, we put on the combat boots."

In 2002, Ann underwent Lap-Band (adjustable gastric band) surgery. To please herself.

"There was no pressure from anywhere at that point," she says. "I've gone through my whole career being talked about, and I could have gone on being talked about. The company offered the surgery for free if I'd talk about it, and I figured I might help other people. I got my eating under control. I still go up and down, but I don't pig out. It helped me train myself."

'Rock mom' living

Dieting, sexism, cratering CD sales and lung-crushing corsets have been minor challenges compared with juggling a globe-trotting career with motherhood, both women say. Nancy and filmmaker Cameron Crowe, married since 1986, have 10-year-old twin boys and live in Los Angeles. Ann is a single mom to a daughter, 19, and son, 12, in Seattle.

"With the kindly help of a therapist, I have come to realize I don't have to feel guilty about having this calling," Ann says. "I was called to be a mother, and I was also called to be a singer. And I cannot desert either one."

Nancy turns to Ann and says: "I need to go to your therapist. When I became a mom, I was a little naïve. It's a little lonely being a rock mom in a soccer-mom world."

Ann adds sympathetically: "And the stay-at-home moms are wary of rock moms. You can cut the vibe with a stick."

They've found one remedy to ease the pain of home tugging at their Heart strings.

"You never really adjust, but it helps to have each other, big time," Ann says. "I can tell when one little muscle in Nancy's face starts to twitch, it's time to knock it off for the day."

Despite a revolving lineup (the duo currently is backed by a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer), Heart has yet to be rocked by sibling rivalry.

"We never argue," Nancy says. "There's no time for drama like that. You have to get on with the business of life."

The Wilsons hope to keep Heart going regardless of the industry's unpredictable swings. Sisterhood is forever, and for now, Heart's in the right place.

"I started writing an autobiography a couple years ago, but I found myself getting really cranky," Nancy says. "I realized I wasn't ready to sum it up. Looking back felt wrong."

Ann, who also abandoned a memoir, chimes in, "I felt that, too! The story doesn't have an ending yet."



http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2010-08-25-heart25_CV_N.htm

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ann Wilson Performs Celebrating George Harrison

Ann Wilson performs "Beware of Darkness" at the George Fest celebrating George Harrison at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Photo From Dressingroom of Passionworks - "How Can I Refuse" You Video

On standby during 'How Can I Refuse' music video shoot- 1983.
Ann Wilson (Left), Nancy Wilson (Right), and Howard Leese (Far Left)
From Wikipedia:

Passionworks is the seventh studio album, released by the hard rock band Heart, in 1983. The album marks a shift in musical direction from hard rock and folk to mainstream rock. This album spent 21 weeks on the U.S. Billboard 200 and reached No. 39.[4] The single, "How Can I Refuse?" hit No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and No. 1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for 1 week.[5] Passionworks was the band's final album with Epic Records before their comeback-fueled move to Capitol Records. It is the first Heart album to feature Denny Carmassi and Mark Andes, who had replaced longtime members Mike DeRosier and Steve Fossen.

In 2009, Passionworks was re-released on the Beat Goes On label as a double CD with the band's previous album Private Audition.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nancy Wilson's House in Seattle

Details coming soon of her former home in the Seattle area. See her photos of home inside and out, plus much, much  more.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ann Wilson at "Stones Fest"

Ann Wilson - "Wild Horses" at "Stones Fest" at Tipitina's in New Orleans, LA July 17, 2014.


Ann Wilson on a Stripper Pole (Oh My...!). 
New Orleans July 17, 2014 "Putting the sinner into Saints and Sinners"

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ann & Nancy Wilson on - A Prairie Home Companion

Rehearsing for tonight's show A Prairie Home Companion at Greek Theatre L.A.

The show will air on KPCC, NPR and NPR XMSirius:
SATURDAY, JUNE 7 6pm-8pm
SUNDAY, JUNE 8 12pm-2pm


Click To Hear Show



Photo Credit:  Heart Music 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Featured Interview as seen on Huffington Post

If already read on Huffington Post click here for my extended conversation with Ann Wilson

Ann Wilson


Since the early ‘70s, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson have been the driving force and soul of the rock band Heart selling more than 35 million albums. In 2013, they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

For It’s About The Words & Conversations, Ann lovingly discusses her relationship with Nancy, how Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha has played a significant role throughout her life and how it helped at a time when Nancy moved in a different direction.

Siddhartha is the story of a young man living in the time of Gotama Buddha. He is born into wealth, learned and destined for greatness. Unhappy and unfulfilled, he leaves against his father’s wishes with his best friend and follower Govinda to travel as a wandering beggar in hopes of finding enlightenment. Eventually, Siddhartha and Govinda go their separate ways and Siddhartha encounters a world unfamiliar to him including love (with a woman named Kamala), lust, and greed. Eventually his struggle to find his spiritual path sees him move on in anguish until he comes to a river. The river is where he finds his spiritual awakening.

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