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Heart Still Beating With New LP, Tour

The Wilson sisters return with classic-sounding disc ‘Red Velvet Car’

Rolling Stone IN Sep 10, 2010

Frederick Breedon/Filmmagic/Getty Images

”˜There’s no financial reason for us to record new music,” says Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson. “In fact, it’s actually inadvisable, but we can’t help it. It’s what we do.” Mostly written on the road over the past two years, the Wilson sisters’ 13th record, Red Velvet Car, is classic Heart ”“ from the ”˜Barracuda’-style angry rocker ”˜WTF’ to the power ballads. “We’ve been on the road so much over the last few years that it’s kind of a travel album,” says Ann Wilson. “It’s a kinetic, autobiographical bunch of songs.”

Heart broke through with a series of heavy hits in the 1970s ”“ ”˜Barracuda,’ ”˜Magic Man,’ ”˜Crazy on You’ ”“ but were often dismissed as a novelty act because they were fronted by two women (a rumour even spread that the sisters were lovers). “The whole gender thing got so tiresome,” says Ann. “It was as if people were talking about a band with two chimps in it.” In the 1980s, a string of seven Top 10 hits brought them back to headlining arenas, but the songs were mainly power ballads penned by outside writers. “It wasn’t authentic,” says Ann. “We were never satisfied.”

The sisters took most of the Nineties off. Nancy, who is married to filmmaker and Rolling Stone contributor Cameron Crowe, wrote music for Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, and both Wilson sisters focussed on raising children. They re-formed Heart in 2001. “I really missed working in a rock band,” says Nancy. “It’s a really gratifying calling, and there were still offers on the table.” Since then, Heart have been regulars on the summer amphitheatre and state-fair circuit, touring with Journey and Cheap Trick. “My 10-year-old twin boys have jobs on the tour helping with the merchandise,” says Nancy. “We’re a family business.”

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During this summer’s tour, the Red Velvet Car tracks fit in seamlessly ”“ though the Wilson sisters still love tearing through the classics. “When you play something familiar like ”˜Barracuda,’ you see how much fun and excitement it brings people,” says Nancy. “It makes us think we did something right with our lives.”