December 7, 2008

My Desert Island Album

December 1980- we had just moved to Ohio from upstate NY a few days before Christmas. It was the end of a really great period for me where my brother had been gone, mom worked nights at a diner, and I was practically living alone at 13. No one beating me up, no one taking their shit out on me, life was just me, my Hot Wheels, and my records.

It wasn't all bad though, mom had reconnected with an old boyfriend that I was very excited about, and once again we were all moving in together- including my brother who was also moving down from NY. Christmas 1980 was in a way a family reunion, we had not seen Harry in a few years since he'd left us in Florida, which started off a 3 yr stretch of family life from Hell. After all kinds of abuse, moms in & out boyfriends, a few moves, her 4th failed marriage and her near fatal head-on collision, the dust was about to settle for a while.
Mom & Harry got me the Bee Gees Greatest Hits double album for Christmas, and when no one was home I used Harry's RCA console stereo- I had the whole trailer thumping to Jive Talkin', Night Fever, You Should Be Dancing & Stayin' Alive.
My brother however, couldn't stand the "jigaboo"music I listened to- all disco and R&B. He bought me a set of headphones for Christmas (so he wouldn't have to hear it anymore), and Heart's Greatest Hits for my birthday (the day after the annoying day that is Christmas).
HEART? Don't get me wrong, I loved Magic Man and even Barracuda, and of course I knew Crazy On You and Heartless from the radio days of Florida, but why would I want a Heart album?
It turned out Heart's bass slammed that place just as well as any of my favorite songs- Magic Man being the fave of course, the driving triple-time drums of Barracuda, and the thumping Straight On. And Strange Euphoria is as good as any sarcastic Chic outtake could potentially be. I played the hell out of it, and was disappointed when it was omitted from the CD release (glad to see it finally released on Heart's Essential 3.0 CD).
It ended up being one of my favorite albums through my teens, and remains as such today. I didn't appreciate the live tracks until years later, when Unchained Melody was also left off the CD. It's the first used record I bought on eBay upon my official return to the format during October. Because my original copy (lost in recent years) still had the sticker with it, I just bought another copy with the sticker (shown above). I'll give the first copy to my goddaughter since I just found out she is into vinyl too.
Packed with powerhouse hits, it's one of the best greatest hits albums in rock & roll history, and also showcases the band live without being a live album and without foresaking the radio hits to live versions. Instead of the live covers, I would have loved live versions of other album cuts like White Lightning And Wine, Little Queen, Devil Delight (would have paired great with Mistral Wind) and Love Alive.
The cover is my fave Heart album cover of their 23 cover catalog, and the Heart logo carried over from the Bebe Le Strange album is my fave Heart logo. The outer cover is a slip-case for an inner gatefold cover housing the records in plain sleeves. The inner cover is a calage of candid band photos inside and out. It well matches the sound calage of Hit Single from side 3.


Jeff said...

For decades I wrote this album off because I misunderstood the title. I thought "Greatest Hits/Live" meant that it was all live stuff. It wasn't until last week when I saw this at the record store that I figured it out. So I *finally* bought this album. I agree that it's a great collection, and the packaging is great.

Nice entry, this one. I always like reading people's own histories with their music.

HiRize said...

thanks Jeff! When the second copy arrived, it's a different pressing than the 1st (which is the same as what my original was). This one is in a THIN jacket and has no inner gatefold jacket for the records- just the two records in plain white sleeves. The cover is about an 1/8th inch shorter. Same catalog # but completely different code in the dead wax. I'm going to try to get a sealed 3rd copy.