‘Brigade’: How Heart Refashioned Their Approach For The 1990s

‘Brigade’: How Heart Refashioned Their Approach For The 1990s

heart 3000DPI300RGB1000172150

Heart’s glossy, MTV-friendly glam-metal makeover led to chart-topping albums such as 1985’s Heart and 1987’s Bad Animals and sustained mainstream success, but as the next decade dawned, the image was wearing thin. Things needed to change when Heart made its next album, 1990’s Brigade.

“We were just getting real tired of all of the artifice,” vocalist Ann Wilson confessed in a 2015 interview with Ultimate Classic Rock. “It was time to get back to being more real.”

Listen to Heart’s Brigade now.

To help achieve this aim, the Seattle quintet hooked up with a new producer for Brigade. Richie Zito had previously worked with artists as diverse as Elton John, Neil Sedaka, and The Cult. The Brooklyn-born producer also proved ideal for Heart. “Some of the producers we’ve worked with in the past have wanted Heart to sound like what was popular at that moment,” Ann Wilson recalled. “Richie never did that. He was very good to work with.”

Accordingly, some of the Brigade material saw Heart returning to its hard-rocking roots – not least on the smoldering, guitar-heavy tracks such as “Fallen From Grace,” “Tall, Dark Handsome Stranger,” and the compelling, Led Zeppelin-esque light and shade of “The Night.”

YouTube Video
Click to load video

However, Brigade wasn’t a complete break from the recent past. Its trio of U.S. Top 40 hits, “I Didn’t Want To Need You,” the Nancy Wilson-sung “Stranded,” and the Robert “Mutt” Lange-penned U.S No. 2 smash “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” were all superior power ballads in the same vein as Bad Animals’ chart-topping “Alone.” Amazingly, though the latter song is now recognized as one of Heart’s signature cuts, the band only happened upon it by chance.

YouTube Video
Click to load video

“[All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You] was originally written for a man to sing,” Ann Wilson told Ultimate Classic Rock. “It was pitched, I think, to [The Eagles’] Don Henley, who turned it down. So it got thrown in the pile of stuff that was being pitched to us. The band sounded good on it and when we turned the [lyric’s] gender around, it became something unique.”

Helped along by the mainstream success of the Grammy-nominated “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You,” Brigade also marched purposefully up the charts. First released by Capitol on March 26, 1990, it peaked at No. 3 on both the U.S. and U.K. album charts and also rose to No. 2 in Canada on its way to a multi-platinum yield similar to the best-selling Bad Animals.

YouTube Video
Click to load video

As a bonus, Brigade’s desire to embrace loud guitars also meant Heart was well-placed at a time when the early 90s grunge explosion was about to put Seattle back on the map. “Brigade came out was when music was turning back to guitars – and away from the huge layer cake production sounds [of the 80s],” Nancy Wilson told Ultimate Classic Rock in 2015. “So it was like it was cool to be from Seattle just then!”

Listen to Heart’s Brigade now.

Music