Fierce Heart – Fierce Heart

1984 Mirage/Atlantic

Man does this one bring back some memories from high school. I remember living for weekend trips into Baton Rouge with my bud Paul Payne in relentless pursuit of stellar new jam…usually at the now defunct superstore New Generation.  I picked this one up for $4.99 back in the day and recently stumbled upon it used online.   I remember knowing virtually nothing about this band and being thoroughly floored by the quality of the hooks.

Remember folks, this was the 1980’s when buying independent music was a true crap shoot. Production on independent albums was typically poorly mixed and wholly lacking in power. When you found an independent record that sounded good, even middling songs tended to rock.
I gave these guys the benefit of the doubt (despite the ridiculous cover art) since they were on a subsidiary label of major players Atlantic.   And they doth not disappoint.

First of all, this disc has that quintessential 80’s classic FM radio mix that fills up the room, so the sounds are BIG.  This is a band obviously in love with the big guitar sounds they’re creating and that total conviction and enthusiasm wins the day with heroic riff after heroic riff.
And it’s a good thing because upon rediscovering this gem I also discovered its Achilles heel…some of the most naff lyrics you’ll ever read.

To wit:
“I want the lion’s share…so you’d better beware”
“Get ready for the hurricane, the storm is headed right your way.”
“We’re taken very seriously, you’d better watch your step.”
“We’re like a wolfpack, the toughest around, got the foxiest girls, find them in town.”
“We’re the heroes and where we go, you’d better step aside”

Yep.    And that’s just a mere smattering of the smorgasboard of intelligencia to be found.

But I digress…truth is, bassist/vocalist Larry Elkins could be singing nursery rhymes for all I care, his husky voice having just enough honest scratch to convey sincerity.   This is the album I always wished Foreigner would make, as they always flirted with being a true hard rock band before they wanted to know what love is.

Big simple and memorable riffs collide and ultimately mesh with huge melodies and harmonies.  Check out the big chorus on Never Gonna Make Me Cry or the insistant chug and killer harmonies on the chorus of Out For Blood.   The former is a song that to this day I can’t believe wasn’t a huge hit.  Leadoff intro Echoes really sets the tone of the album, with Rex Carroll letting you know right off the bat that he can shred with the best of ’em…albeit with more class and atmosphere than many of his contemporaries at the time.   Search and Destroy and Loose Lips are two other songs that you can check out…the former a pretty sturdy rocker and the latter sporting some great harmonies bringing vitality to a lyrically cliche’ chorus.

Bottom line is that the lyrics alone make this disc a guilty pleasure for me.   Like I said…the totally committed rock album I always wished Foreigner would make.   Sad to say but Foreigner’s lyrics ain’t much better.   Otherwise, the songs are so strong and hooky and the sound is just so 80’s big that I find myself revisiting it frequently.  One of those albums that brings me back to some of the happier moments of my adolescence.

Rating:  4 out of 5