Heart

Strange Euporia (Epic Legacy)

Phases & Stages

Heart

Strange Euphoria (Epic/Legacy)

There's a girliness to this box set that's subtle and befitting of Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson are the ultimate in sister acts, too, keeping close to themselves and their ideas. That vision is beautifully realized on the sibling-curated Strange Euphoria, a yardstick of their development as two rock & roll fans who wanted to be Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and grew to realize that dream. In those hits that sold 35 million records ("These Dreams"), deep cuts ("Love Mistake"), unreleased sides ("Skin to Skin"), and live shots ("Never," "Love or Madness") beats Heart's soul: monster guitar riffs, velvety acoustic numbers, and Ann Wilson's ripping lungs. That's what keeps the four CDs and DVD here so connected; Heart sounds like Heart, no matter the decade. It was a stage devoid of competition when Heart blasted through in 1976 with "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man," heard as demos on disc one. Suzi Quatro, Fanny, and Cradle all rocked as female precursors, but it was Ann Wilson's mighty vocals that opened a superstar door shut after Janis Joplin overdosed, and her only real peer was Stevie Nicks. Discs two and three glide into Heart's second wind during the Eighties MTV era, with rumpuses "City's Burning" and the unreleased "Any Woman's Blues." The DVD then comes as a bonus for Seventies Heart fans: the band before its label dictated their look and mega-stages dictated the band. The real payoff comes on the bonus disc, a roaring five-song EP called Zeppish that tears down the walls of Mordor. Here's offshoot group the Lovemongers' soaring "The Battle of Evermore," "What Is and What Should Never Be" with John Paul Jones, and a group hug on "Misty Mountain Hop," played and sung with abandon and love. And heart.

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