Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Classic Acts Deliver New Discs

Ann Wilson used to like to unnerve the male members of the various local bands in her native Seattle by belting out Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” with a ferocity that matched Robert Plant’s original vocal. Along with her sister Nancy, their band, Heart, recorded a string of successful albums such as 1976’s “Dreamboat Annie” and “Dog & Butterfly” from 1978.

Heart hit the comeback trail in the mid-80s, and songs like “These Dreams” and “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” extended their string of hits into the early ‘90s. After an extended break, Heart returns with “Red Velvet Car” (Legacy), an album packed with acoustic ballads and determined rockers that bear the indelible shimmer of the Wilsons’ melodic, still spine-tingling harmonies.

Wilson’s voice barely hints at how much time has passed since she first belted out “Magic Man” more than 30 years ago, and the equally theatrical “Safronia’s Mark” is a wide-eyed, rousing rocker in the same vein. Her sister Nancy still knows how to convincingly emote on “Hey You,” an especially tuneful performance that harks back to the sound of the band’s ‘80s power ballads. And despite the fact that the title track and “Death Valley” are by-the-numbers rockers, the pair of songs that close the album, the engaging “Sunflower” and the reflective “Sand” find Ann and Nancy Wilson still more than capable of upstaging any of their male contemporaries.


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