If you are a diehard fan of Heart, you are sure to love Strange Euphoria (Sony Legacy), a 3CD box set that features a good amount of their hits, album tracks, and a healthy mixture of unreleased demos and live material, taken from all eras of their career plucked from various labels. One of the big highlights is the inclusion of Ann Wilson & The Daybreaks‘ “Through Eyes And Glass”. Released on the Seattle-based Topaz label, Wilson sounds as haunting as some of Grace Slick‘s or Linda Ronstadt‘s best, coming off like quaint psychedelic pop. One almost expects the mood to get more trippy, but instead it sounds introspective. With a line that simply goes “get off the train, get off the train, get off the train”, the song is then surrounded by celestial flutes, as Nancy Wilson plays melodically along with the rest of the Daybreaks. While not the first record for either Wilson sister, the song doesn’t quite begin to show what they would become known for, but they were both fully capable of creating something like this.
Then it’s the familiar tracks, with demos of “Magic Man”, “Crazy On You”, and more, plus live versions of “Barracuda”, “White Lightning & Wine”, and the list goes on and on. For hits, there’s so much: “Dog & Butterfly”, “Even It Up”, “Little Queen”, “These Dreams”, “Straight On”, “Alone”. If you enjoyed their work as The Lovemongers, you’ll be satisfied with what’s here. If you get the hard copy version of this box, you’ll get a DVD along with a bonus fourth CD with nothing but Led Zeppelin covers.
While Strange Euphoria does have hits, I wouldn’t consider this a greatest hits box. While there are album tracks here, all of them selected by both Ann and Nancy, this is far from being deep. Long time fans should be pleased with what’s on here, but I would have loved to have heard more unreleased songs, outtakes, alternate takes, songs that go to its proper conclusion, all of that. A few of my personal picks are not on here: their great cover of Aaron Neville‘s “Tell It Like It Is” or 1987′s “I Want You So Bad”. If anything, these songs show how strong their material was then as they are now. They rocked because they weren’t afraid to. They may have wanted to “be with the boys”, and some might say they wanted to “rock out with their cocks out”, but they are ladies who loved what they loved and didn’t care what people thought. The poppier side of their 80′s songs may have shocked many to the point where some called it a sell-out a move, but many of their album tracks showed hints of that long before the mid-80′s, and even the Daybreaks 45 was a sign of what could have been had they stayed that way.
When Heart started gaining national attention, very few people understood what it meant to be a Seattle band because the city was not on the big musical map. Seattle could have been in the sticks for anyone concerned, so while being rooted in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia helped them to become who they are, it was recording and performing elsewhere that finally made them a force to be reckon with, and this box is the proof of their success. Again, it’s not a box set to find the deep goodies, and perhaps that’s in the not-too-distant future. But for those who want a healthy amount of previously-existing goodies and some unpolished gems, pick up this box.