Review: Strange Euphoria – Heart

Back in the ’70s, when two sisters formed a band called Heart and released their defining “Magic Man” single on the independent Mushroom Records label, they had no idea that the entire journey, thus far, would produce this aptly titled, career spanning Box called Strange Euphoria.

Ann, a vocalist extraordinaire, with her brilliant guitar playing sister, Nancy formed the basis of the band that became international stars on the strength of their songs and platinum selling albums over the years.  While their strongest periods were from the ’70s, and ’80s, they never gave up the ghost.

As there will be for immensely popular bands, there have been many ‘best of’ packages released for Heart over the years, including intimate Essential packages.  What makes Strange Euphoria a better package?  Because it is not a best-of package in the normal sense.  it is a complementary package that slots next to any Essential packages you may have.  Its collection is made up of quite a few demos that are quite wonderful to hear.

Strange Euphoria begins with a wide and satisfying collection of vault treasure demos that include a folkier “Magic Man”, preceded by the opening track of this box, the pre-Heart and folky “Through Eyes amp; Glass”, a proper song on loan from Ann Wilson amp; The Daybreaks (which should surprise fans of the rockier Heart).

The “Crazy On You” demo is even a refreshing thing to hear in place of its more popular studio cut.  Still, this box is rewarded with original studio cuts of songs to keep it interestingly a Heart career overview.  “These Dreams”, “Kick It Out”, “Little Queen”, and others go the distance, as they did during their fresh release dates.

In addition to the 51 tracks found on Strange Euphoria, 20 of which are previously unreleased (mostly demos and a few live cuts), the set adds in a 57-minute DVD that plays back a 1976 TV concert.  It’s great fun to watch, and worth more than several spins (I’ve watched it three times already).

The box is augmented by an obligatory book-sized document that covers ground by way of track-to-track commentary from both Nancy and Ann Wilson.  The 60-page book contains plenty of era-specific pictures, and memorabilia to make the package more attractive to dedicated Heart fans to whom this release is geared toward.

The “box” is a slip-cased, tri-fold CD wallet.  Strange Euphoria is essential material for those that are Heart fans.

Release Date: June 5, 2012

–Matt Rowe