Archive for May 12, 2021

Great Rock Albums of 1987: Heart- Bad Animals

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12, 2021 by 80smetalman

Heart’s 1987 “Bad Animals” sort of posed a bit of a dilemma for me. It’s a decent album and there is no doubt behind the reasons why it was their best selling album, with the possible exception of their previous self-titled album but for me, it’s not my favourite Heart album. I still prefer much more hard rocking albums such as “Dreamboat Annie” and “Dog and Butterfly.”

It’s the further reliance on keyboards which has formed my opinion on “Bad Animals.” I get that the use of keyboards and synthesizers was the key to success for many bands in the 1980s, however, I get the impression that secretly, Heart wanted to rock out more but they were under pressure from their record company to sound more ‘commercial.’ What gives me this impression was when I saw them live in early 1988 with The Jitters supporting. On the album, the title track sounds okay but still a little synthed out and the guitars are turned down too much. However, when Heart came out on stage, they opened the show with it and the guitars were definitely turned up, it sounded awesome! It would have been better if they had done it that way on the album. On the other hand, “Who Will You Run To” wasn’t a bad choice for album opener. There is a hard rock spark to it that grabs your attention but I’m afraid, their live performance of “Bad Animals” makes me wish that version of the track opened the album.

My feelings are similar to the single which went all the way to number one, “Alone.” It’s a great song and I love Ann Wilson’s melodic scream on the second verse. An old friend used to try to copy said scream after a few drinks and actually, her attempt wasn’t that bad. Again, and I know I probably shouldn’t compare it with other songs, but for me, Heart produced the great power ballad ever with “Allies” off the “Passionworks” album. One point to note, “Allies” doesn’t have a guitar solo and Howard Leese’s guitar solo on “Alone” is top notch but I still prefer “Allies.”

When I talk about the commercial success of “Bad Animals,” I am totally spot on. It went to number two in the US and peaked in the top five in Canada and four other countries and it hit number seven in the UK. Take that synth pop trendies! It also had four singles, two of which I have already mentioned. “The other two, “There’s the Girl” and “I Want You So Bad” are okay but not the rockers I loved about Heart in the late 1970s.

In spite of my talk about synthesizers, there are some rocking moments on the album. While “Who Will You Run To” might not have been my choice for an opener, it is still a good solid rocking track, my favourite on the album. However, I can’t call it a hidden gem because it did get to number seven in the US singles charts. The hidden gem is the penultimate track, “Easy Target.” It is here where guitarists Leese and Nancy Wilson are finally completely let off the leash and allowed to rock out. There are some power chords as well as some intricate sounding guitar hooks and a great solo from Howard. If more songs sounded like this, then I would have loved it more although the masses around the world don’t share my opinion.

Track Listing:

  1. Who Will You Run To
  2. Alone
  3. There’s the Girl
  4. I Want You So Bad
  5. Wait for an Answer
  6. Bad Animals
  7. You Ain’t So Tough
  8. Strangers of the Heart
  9. Easy Target
  10. RSVP

Ann Wilson- vocals

Nancy Wilson- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Howard Leese- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Mark Andes- bass

Denny Carmassi- drums

I think the problem with me is that my musical tastes and Heart went in different directions in the 1980s. They went for the more softer commercial sound while I was thrashing out. Therefore, I didn’t show the album the love I could have but instead reminisced about their 70s classics, all of which they played that night I saw them.

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