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‘Magazine’: Heart’s Second Album Goes From Turmoil To Triumph

When the upgraded, band-sanctioned edition of this album was finally released, fans got to hear some of the group’s best music yet.

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Cover: Courtesy of Capitol Records

The recording of Heart’s second album, Magazine, should have been a joy for all concerned. The Seattle quintet’s impressive 1975 debut Dreamboat Annie had gone Top 10 on the U.S Billboard 200 (and spawned the hits “Crazy On You” and “Magic Man”), and its follow-up seemed certain to give the group a springboard for sustained mainstream success. Yet, while the sessions for Magazine got underway in Vancouver in 1976, they stalled due to a welter of business-related problems.

Then, “[our label Mushroom] took the few tracks that were nearly done and completed them without our involvement, using our rough vocals,” Heart sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson recalled in their 2012 memoir, Kicking & Dreaming: A Story Of Heart, Soul And Rock And Roll. “To that, they added a few outtakes and live tracks, and rushed the album into stores.”

Listen to Heart’s Magazine now.

This rougher initial version of Magazine was briefly released in April 1977, but a legal injunction saw it swiftly removed from shelves. However, the court in Seattle also ruled that Heart still needed to provide Mushroom with a second album to settle the dispute. A compromise was then reached – Mushroom would re-release Magazine, but only after Heart completed it to their satisfaction.

“We decided to make Magazine that album [we gave Mushroom],” Ann Wilson told Ultimate Classic Rock in a 2018 interview. “But we insisted we finish the vocals and mixes.” The additional work Heart duly undertook at Seattle’s Sea-West Studios made all the difference in how the album eventually turned out. With the band working up additional parts and Ann Wilson adding excellent new lead vocals, Magazine became the worthy successor to Dreamboat Annie Heart had always promised.

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The record opened with its most celebrated song, the feisty, bar-room rocking “Heartless,” but it went on to showcase Heart’s versatility on tracks ranging from the Led Zeppelin-esque groove of “Devil Delight” to the heady, semi-acoustic bliss of “Just The Wine.” Elsewhere, a faithfully robust cover of Badfinger’s “Without You” (also a massive hit for Harry Nilsson in 1971) featured one of Ann Wilson’s most show-stopping vocals, while even the live tracks, taped at one of Heart’s many shows at Seattle’s Aquarius Tavern, more than justified their inclusion. The slow, playful “Mother Earth Blues” incorporated excerpts from Willie Dixon’s blues standard “You Shook Me,” while the anthemic “I’ve Got The Music In Me” ensured Magazine went out on a high.

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Thus, the story of Heart’s troubled second album ultimately had a happy ending. Indeed, when the upgraded, band-sanctioned edition of Magazine was formerly issued by Mushroom in April 1978, it went platinum in both Canada and the U.S., where it rose to No. 17 on the Billboard 200 and has gone on to establish itself as a firm favorite with the band’s ever-faithful fanbase.

Listen to Heart’s Magazine now.

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