Heart – Little Queen (1977)
Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! I hope you enjoyed Boston last week. This week we’re going one year past the release of Boston to 1977 and the second studio release from Heart, Little Queen. Following the success of their first album, Dreamboat Annie, that was largely based on the success of its singles “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You,” there was a breakdown between the band and their label. Ultimately it came down to a difference in contract negotiations that led the band to sign with a new label for this album. Their old label still released another Heart album without the band using incomplete studio recordings that would become the third studio release, Magazine. Because of this, Heart had two albums on the charts at the same time, although Little Queen outsold Magazine handily. Little Queen spawned the band’s biggest hit, “Barracuda,” and solidified Heart as a major player in the hard rock genre. The album went multi-platinum and the band went on to create thirteen more albums, although none quite as successful as this one.
Little Queen surprised me. I didn’t expect to find much that I would like other than “Barracuda” since that’s the one Heart song that everyone knows, but I ended up finding so much more. There are a LOT of deep cuts on this album that deserve a listen and are going into my rotation, most notably “Dream of the Archer” and “Little Queen,” and to a lesser extent, “Say Hello.” All three of them are unique in their musicality, and I didn’t think I would like a ballad like “Dream of the Archer” as much as I did. It’s absolutely beautiful in its execution and I’m going to remember the vocals from that for a long time to come. This is also another one of those albums that is best listened to in one sitting in order. A lot of the songs flow from one right into the next seamlessly and breaking them up ruins the experience. Please enjoy this offering from Heart, and I hope you find a new favorite deep cut!
Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown
Barracuda: What a powerhouse of a song to start an album off with! “Barracuda” is an absolute classic and everything I like to hear in a rock song. It’s loud, it’s powerful, it’s driving, and it’s iconic. Ann Wilson’s vocals are shatteringly good and are matched equally by Nancy Wilson’s stampeding guitar part. This is a top-notch way to start an album. Dad’s Rating 9/10
Love Alive: “Love Alive” is one of those hidden gem songs that you probably wouldn’t know about unless you were a Heart fan; I know this was my first time hearing it. This is right up there as one of the best songs on the album. “Love Alive” is a dynamic song that starts out with a beautiful acoustic guitar piece and toned back vocals before building into a faster tempo rock song. Of note is the little acoustic riff every time Ann sings “Keep my love alive.” That’s a fantastic little part that you hear throughout the song. High marks for “Love Alive.” This is definitely worth the listen! Dad’s Rating 8/10
Sylvan Song: “Love Alive” flows right into “Sylvan Song,” and I would almost consider them one in the same. This is a complete instrumental piece that ultimately plays into “Dream of the Archer.” The guitar on this is beautiful and elegant, and the use of the synthesizer in the background towards the end gives it a real depth of building presence. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Dream of the Archer: This is the third song to flow into one another, and I place it slightly above “Love Alive,” but not quite enough to earn a 9. “Dream of the Archer” is a beautiful piece that almost seems to be inspired by medieval music thanks to the contribution of the autoharp. Ann’s vocals crescendo and decrescendo throughout the piece, matched by the more and less frantic strumming on Nancy’s guitar, almost as if they’re taking you through a journey or a ‘dream.’ What an apt name for a song! The guitar piece stands out again on this track. It’s both light and powerful in its delivery at the same time. The soft vocal harmonies throughout the track lend credence to the musicality of the song. Dad’s Rating 8/10
Kick It Out: We’re back to a more traditional hard rock sound with “Kick It Out.” This is an average rock song and there’s not much to make it stand out. In a way, this track is a disappointment in the vocal department. We’ve heard Ann belt it out on other songs, and that makes this feel like a lackluster performance. Dad’s Rating 5/10
Little Queen: This is one of my favorite songs on the whole album. Period. I’ve had this song on repeat for the whole week! The album’s namesake (and hidden gem in a way) delivers with a funky, bass-driven track and some smoky vocals. All I can say is sit back and prepare to relax. It’s not as ‘hard rock’ as “Barracuda,” but it’s musically dynamic and fun to listen to! Dad’s Rating 8/10
Treat Me Well: “Treat Me Well” is a stripped back ballad and is the only song on the album that Ann Wilson doesn’t sing lead vocals for, instead handing over the microphone to her sister. There’s honestly not a lot to say about this song. This is a simple ballad that I’ll forget about by the end of the album. It’s boring and doesn’t stand up to the rest of the slower tracks on the album. It’s not bad, just forgettable. Dad’s Rating 4/10
Say Hello: This song intrigued me on first listen, then again on second and third listens. There’s a really unique syncopation going on here (music that’s played on the off-beat as opposed to the on-beat) that gives it a jumpy, positive sound. “Say Hello” almost has a latin flair working for it, and it’s like nothing I’ve heard on a rock album yet. This is a cool, off-kilter song that deserves a listen for its uniqueness, and it might become one of my favorites in time. Dad’s Rating 6/10
Cry To Me: We’re back to ballads, but Ann has taken the lead again. I think that’s for the best honestly. Ann’s voice is much more dynamic and capable than Nancy’s. Even though this song has a similar tempo to “Treat Me Well” (which often makes me lose interest to be completely honest), “Cry To Me” is much more memorable. The high notes that Ann hits are beautiful in their lightness, and I could listen to them all day long. This is a memorable ballad. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Go On Cry: Two songs about crying, let’s do it. “Go On Cry” is another song that is a continuation of its former song. “Cry To Me” leaves us at a lull that the final song on the album takes two minutes to build in to, and the buildup through this track is so well done. The backing vocals give what would normally be a funky buildup a hauntingly funky feeling. I give a shout out to the drums for the jazzy, fast-paced, driving rhythm that they’ve developed. That’s really cool to hear over melting vocals and a wailing guitar. I’m particularly fond of how the album leaves you with a sense of quiet completion at the end of this song. Not every album needs to have a big finish, and Heart prove that it can be done here. They build up just to pull it back down and fade out. That’s unique and I’ll remember that for a while. Dad’s Rating 6/10
The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.