“Dreamboat Annie” by Heart (No. 87)

Before I owned this album, I’d happily empty my pockets of change – or beg my parents for a quarter – to put “Magic Man” on the jukebox. To this day it feels a little like cheating* that I can just play “Magic Man” any damn time I want.

Turns out, I want to pretty often. I turn to Dreamboat Annie all the time when I’m looking for something to listen to while I read or work on the computer.

Let’s talk about “Crazy On You” for a minute, because that song alone is just sonic perfection. “Crazy On You” starts with Nancy Wilson’s expert acoustic guitar, an intricate intro that lasts about 45 seconds, then melds with Roger Fisher’s blazing electric guitar. Then at about a minute in, Ann Wilson joins in – softly at first, and then building in lustful intensity.

The nautical theme of Dreamboat Annie really picks up with “Soul of the Sea.” The sound of waves leads into gentle guitar, light cymbals, and Ann’s vocals caressing the lyrics over strings and more light guitar.

“White Lightning and Wine” is a mid-tempo number that has some vaguely bluesy guitar and Ann raunches it up with dirty croon about a one night stand. Fisher gets a chance to really cut loose at the end of “White Lightning” while Ann does the same.

The band turns on a dime and pulls out “(Love Me Like Music) I’ll Be Your Song.” This is a pleasant little love song, with some very 70s mellow guitar and sweetened almost too much with strings. But not quite, it works.

“Sing Child” gives Ann another chance to strut her stuff, belting out the chorus and showing off a bit. Fisher also breaks out the metal guitar solo a bit more than halfway through the song. Basically, everybody gets to show their chops on this one. It may not be the world’s most meaningful song, but damn it’s fun. It even got a little flute interlude. Check out the YouTube vid below, because seeing Heart perform it live really shows what the song is all about.

This one goes just a wee bit farther than the album version. It makes me deeply sad that I never got to see Heart in the late 70s. Holy shit. But I still have Dreamboat Annie, so I guess that kind of makes it OK.

From the heaviness of “Sing Child,” the album takes a sharp turn to Abba-land with “How Deep It Goes.” If you needed to distill the essence of 70s soft rock in one song, this is what you’d get. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice song and fits well on the album, but it also feels like a radio exec was looking over somebody’s shoulder to get this one recorded. Naturally, it was Heart’s first single. But it was “Magic Man” that captured attention and led to the release of the full album.

Heart released plenty of great music after “Dreamboat Annie,” but I still think this is their finest album. “Dog & Butterfly,” “Barracuda,” and “Heartless” all stand out as some of the band’s best songs, but the albums they were on don’t quite hold up as well as Dreamboat Annie.

* To be fair, I also feel that way about classic video games. Being able to play arcade games as much as I want for free is just a little like having unlimited power.

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