College Countdown, The First CMJ Album Chart, 5

5heart

5. Heart, Dog & Butterfly

Dog & Butterfly was the second Heart album released in 1978. Sort of.

The band that famously features the Wilson sisters, lead singer Ann and lead guitarist Nancy, released their debut album on Mushroom Records in 1976. In short order, the group decided that they wanted to leave the label, in large part because they were angered by the salacious approach being taken in the marketing of their music. Heart made the move to Portrait, a new subsidiary of Columbia Records, but the folks at Mushroom didn’t actually feel like the band had the right to instigate the change. At roughly the same time Heart released their Portrait debut, Little Queen, in 1977, Mushroom cobbled together incomplete recordings the band left behind and dropped an album called Magazine on the market, even acknowledging the mess on the back cover with a disclaimer that read, “Mushroom Records regrets that a contractual dispute has made it necessary to complete this record without the cooperation or endorsement of the group Heart, who have expressly disclaimed artistic involvement in completing this record. We did not feel that a contractual dispute should prevent the public from hearing and enjoying these incredible tunes and recordings.”

Both labels argued that the other had no right to release music from Heart. The dispute made it all the way into the courtroom, where it was ordered that Mushroom had to recall the album, but that Heart also owed the label another record. They chose to go back and finish Magazine, remixing the recordings and adding some new material. The Heart-approved version of the album was officially released in April of 1978.

Six months later, Heart was out with another album, this their first for Portrait with no background business wrangling going on. Entitled Dog & Butterfly, it was intended to show different sides of the band, with the first side, “Dog,” containing hard rock songs, and the flip, “Butterfly,” mostly comprised of ballads (or power ballads anyway). Like their previous releases, Dog & Butterfly was a major success, yielding two Top 40 singles and earning a double platinum certification. It is a record deeply of its time, perfectly suited for all the album rock radio cropping up on the FM dial. It also sounds really dated now, with even the title cut, one of the band’s standards, unmistakably a product of the decade in which it was spawned.

Dog & Butterfly represented the beginning of the end of the early success of Heart. Although their next album, the unfortunately-titled Bebe le Strange, actually charted higher than any of its predecessors, it was also the first release from the sisters that didn’t make it to platinum sales. It was even more dire as the pushed into the eighties, at least until they reinvented themselves for the MTV era with their 1986 self-titled LP. Ridiculously glammed-up in videos that took great care to showcase Nancy Wilson’s frizzed up hair and bustiers, Heart had hits that well exceeded anything they’d experienced before. The older music lived on, though, giving them a foundation of familiar favorites to break out for audiences, and even recycle in the most unlikely places.

Previously…
An Introduction
–26: Darkness on the Edge of Town
–25: Give Thankx
–24: Caravan to Midnight
–23: Next of Kihn
–22: 52nd Street
–21: Crafty Hands
–20: Luxury You Can Afford
–19: Some Girls
–18: Mr. Gone
–17: Stage
–16: Pieces of Eight
–15: Bloody Tourists
–14: Along the Red Ledge
–13: The Bride Stripped Bare
–12: On the Edge
–11: Parallel Lines
–10: More Songs About Buildings and Food
–9: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
–8: Twin Sons of Different Mothers
–7: Comes a Time
–6: Bursting Out

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