ON THIS DATE (37 YEARS AGO)
May 14, 1977 – Heart: Little Queen is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# allmusic 4.5/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Little Queen is the second album released by Heart, released on this date in May 1977 on Portrait Records.
It also produced the band’s most popular hit Barracuda, which Ann Wilson wrote after a controversial publicity stunt by Mushroom Records created about her and Nancy featured a full-page ad in Rolling Stone showing the sisters bare-shouldered (as appearing on the “Dreamboat Annie” album cover) and suggestively captioned “It was only our first time”. When a reporter suggested, backstage after a live appearance, that the sisters were sex partners, Ann returned to her hotel room and began writing the lyrics to “Barracuda” to relieve her frustration. The song became one of Heart’s biggest hits peaking at #11.
The group intended Little Queen to be the official follow-up to the debut Dreamboat Annie. They had just left their first label Mushroom Records, for the newly formed Portrait Records division of CBS Records (now Sony/BMG). However the situation became very complicated when Mushroom decided to release a batch of studio demos and live recordings as the album Magazine at the same time as Little Queen. The record was hugely successful, becoming the band’s second top ten album and eventually went 3x platinum.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
Heart’s followup to their phenomenally successful debut LP continues their curious marriage of bursting-at-the seams hard rock and reflective, soft acoustic music. Understanding their meteoric rise is not that difficult — lead singer Ann Wilson, with her urgent, often explosive vocals, is the closest rock has to a female counterpart of Zeppelin’s Robert Plant (and anyway, Lord knows, we need many more women in rock & roll). Led Zeppelin influences abound, from Wilson’s “Summer-of-My-Smiles” phrasing on “Dream of the Archer” down to guitarist Roger Fisher’s Page-ish intro on “Go On Cry” and his ferocious riffing on “Barracuda” and the title track. The latter are the roughest and best tracks on record.
Heart’s acoustic work is simply no match for their hard stuff; “Archer,” with its mesermizing double-tracked mandolins, is the only nonrocker that works. The rest function as little more than diversions. The group also suffers from a lack of material; “Go On Cry” is simply some fancy guitar work fortified by a few wails from Wilson, yet it is the longest track on the record.
Dreamboat Annie proved that, in lean times, a few good songs can go a long way commercially, but three songs still don’t qualify an LP as a good one. While there’s little doubt that Little Queen will do well financially, Heart needs to realize the potential of its obvious talents if it seeks to gain a lasting audience.
~ Billy Altman (June 30, 1977)
“Barracuda” (Michael DeRosier, Roger Fisher, Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson) – 4:21
“Love Alive” (Fisher, A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 4:22
“Sylvan Song” (Instrumental) (Fisher, N. Wilson) – 2:12
“Dream of the Archer” (Fisher, A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 4:30
“Kick It Out” (A. Wilson) – 2:45
“Little Queen” (DeRosier, Fisher, Steve Fossen, Howard Leese, A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 5:10
“Treat Me Well” (N. Wilson) – 3:25
“Say Hello” (Fisher, A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 3:36
“Cry to Me” (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 2:52
“Go On Cry” (Fisher, A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 5:53
Remastered issue 2004 bonus tracks
“Too Long a Time” (Early demo version of “Love Alive”) – 3:33
“Stairway to Heaven” (live) – 9:20