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Sisters present new album of old songs
American band Heart have delved deep into their back catalogue for a new album which is being promoted with a handful of British gigs concluding at Birmingham Symphony Hall on July 3, 2016.
The new record, Beautiful Broken, is released on July 8 and includes re-recordings of tracks from past albums. It's the 16th long player from Heart, fronted by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. The title track and first single features a guest vocal contribution by Metallica's James Hetfield with Ann Wilson.
Sisters: Nancy and Ann Wilson rocking on stage with Heart
"There is really a '70s feel to this record, both in the sound and the way we got to the emotional core of each song," says guitarist Nancy Wilson. "We picked songs that we always wanted to re-do, plus we've added three new tracks. On both new and old, we have the band playing together the way we used to. This is classic Heart."
The seven tracks on Beautiful Broken pulled from the Heart catalogue were tunes both Nancy and Ann wanted another shot at, partly due to how they were initially produced. Songs like City's Burning, Down on Me and Sweet Darlin' have always been live favourites of the sisters and Heart's fans.
"Those songs may have fallen through the cracks, in a way, because of where radio was at the time when they were first released," Ann Wilson says. "Rediscovering those songs, I found ways they emotionally still speak to me."
Two songs are from 1983's Passionworks, two from 1982's Private Audition, and two from 1980's Bebe Le Strange. Beautiful Broken's title track was originally a bonus song on 2012's Fanatic, Heart's last album, but the new version is essentially an entirely new song with vocals and some lyrics added by Metallica's James Hetfield.
"It blows the previous version out of the water," says Nancy. "James just took the song on, and what he added was perfect with a bite and a rock accent."
Beautiful Broken was co-produced by Nancy with Heart's bassist Dan Rothchild, son of the Doors producer Paul Rothchild. It was recorded at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, the same studio the Doors cut their best work. "There were eerie echoes in the hallway," Nancy says.
Heart to heart: Nancy and Ann Wilson
Nancy Wilson sings one of the album's three new songs, Two. She first heard it on a demo made for a television show her husband Geoff was working on. She asked the song's writer, Ne-Yo, if he'd consider giving her the song. "I went to work begging for the song," she says. "Ne-Yo said, 'sure.' It ends up he's a Heart fan. He may still release his own version at some point, but to me the song feels like mine now."
Heart released debut album Dreamboat Annie in 1976 and subsequently enjoyed hit singles like Magic Man, Crazy On You, Barracuda, Alone, What About Love and These Dreams. In 2012 their memoir, Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll, became a New York Times bestseller, and in 2013 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Heart's 2016 UK tour dates:
June 29: Royal Albert Hall, London; June 30: O2 Apollo Theatre, Manchester; July 2: Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow;
July 3: Symphony Hall, Birmingham.