Little Queen [Expanded Edition]

by: Heart

The 2004 24-bit remastered and expanded version of Heart's seminal 1977 album, Little Queen (the band's major-label debut), is a revelation. While tunes like "Barracuda" and "Kick It Out" have been classic rock radio staples since the dinosaur age, they've never lost their edge or appeal, and here they roar with new power. The reason for that is on this recording. Those two are the sanctioned hard rockers here, and with the guitars layered impeccably and the drum and bass thud giving the power riffs enough of a bottom to keep them strutting into the stratosphere, it's actually the midtempo tunes and ballads that reveal the depth and vision of the Wilson sisters' gift for writing great songs and hooks. With producer Mike Flicker, they put together a ten-track masterpiece. Certainly the Led Zeppelin influence is everywhere, but there was a lot more than Soft White Underbelly worship at work here. A fresh listen to "Keep My Love Alive," with Nancy's droning guitar riff and textured acoustic guitars wrapped so elegantly around Ann's voice (before her beautiful flute lilts in the turnarounds), offers a multidimensional portrait of Heart as songwriters of the first degree, who understood not only nuance and dynamic but the possibilities of a recording studio. "Dream of the Archer" is another delight, with its high-strung guitars and mandolins and medieval framework -- without the corniness. The harmonies and interwoven guitars dovetail and flit around one another without seam or straggle. Of course, the title track, with its funky backbeat and hook, is sexy as all get-out. "Cry to Me" retains all of its sadness and beauty, and one can hear the high shimmer on the acoustic guitar more prominently than ever before. The bonus material here includes "Too Long a Time," an early demo version of "Keep My Love Alive," that is faster and offers the backing vocals in a more prominent place than on the finished version. There is also a nine-plus minute live version of "Stairway to Heaven," with Ann offering a typical corny rock spoken intro. But the tune itself rocks the joint...hard. The introductory notes by Nancy are brief, but offer a unique and unpretentious view. Any way you cut it, this belongs on any shelf that prides itself on the classic rock canon, and is an amazing introduction to the band for those who thought that the MTV years were the sum total of their contribution. ~ Thom Jurek

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.