My interest in Heart was really one of those right-place-right-time things. I didn’t really know anything they had done up until their mid 80s comeback. The first song of Heart’s that really caught my attention was “Nothin’ At All” – the fourth single off of their eponymous 1985 album. I was always drawn to Ann’s powerhouse of a voice – not many women in rock can belt like Ann Wilson. And thanks to a pretty awesome video, “Nothin’ At All” is one of those indelible songs of the summer of 1986. I bought the album on the strength of that song and ended up liking most of it. It took me a long time to warm up to the harder rocking songs, preferring the more pop-influenced songs that had been spun off as singles. Nevertheless, I was still pretty excited when a year later, Heart’s follow-up album, Bad Animals, was set for release.
“Alone” is one of those songs that everyone knows, whether you like it or not. I happen to like it quite a bit, but if I recall correctly, Heart really doesn’t all these years later. I think that it’s unfairly maligned – it’s a product of 1987 if there ever was one. And true to form, Ann wails on this. It spent 3 weeks at #1 in the summer of 87 – Heart’s biggest hit by far. Like most songs of this era, it is inextricably linked with its music video, which MTV played practically every hour. Despite that, it took me until today to realize that Nancy Wilson is sporting some very Stevie Nicks hair at the beginning of the video.
“Alone” has been covered a handful of times – probably most notably by Celine Dion. She couldn’t repeat Heart’s success with the song though, probably because she did nothing but a karaoke cover of the song. Also, much like “Open Your Heart” is owned by Madonna, Ann Wilson made “Alone” all her own. No one can wail like she can, and this song demands wailing – just not the Celine version of wailing.
Perhaps my favorite version of “Alone” (apart from the original) is a bizarre remix I discovered somewhere in a dusty corner of the Internet several years ago. It turns the song on its ear, giving it a driving EDM beat and uses only little snippets of Ann Wilson’s original vocal. In a way, it’s almost like “Alone” was sampled into a completely different song, rather than it being a remix of “Alone.” I always have a little bit of a soft spot for those dance songs that use a sample of something over and over again (see also Eric Prydz’ “Call On Me” or Moon Boots’ “Off My Mind”) so it’s not surprising that this remix resonated with me.
Sad to say, Heart really haven’t made a good album in ages. But for me, their bombastic 80s version will always represent the hardest rocking music I liked during my teenage years.