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Heart Like A Wheel, Linda Ronstadt, 1974
Winner of ten Grammy Awards, Linda Ronstadt is predominantly known as a country rock singer, but she has also been hailed as someone who has been able to interpret songs into her own distinctive sound.
Heart Like A Wheel was Linda Ronstadt's fifth solo album and proved to be her first major commercial success. With the help of producer Peter Asher and multi instrumentalist Andrew Gold (whose 'Thankyou For Being A Friend' ended up as The Golden Girls theme) the folk influence of previous albums disappeared in favour of a more country rock sound. Ronstadt managed to hit both the number one singles charts in America with 'You're No Good' as well as the album being at the top of the album charts.
I think 'Dark End of the Street' was my favourite track on the album. With an opening riff that sounds all too familiar to Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Simple Man' it soon becomes a totally engaging rock track about secret sexual liaisons in dark corners. Oh sexy! A great groove of a song and one that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
One thing that on the first initial hearing of the album did grate me slightly was Ronstadt's slightly warbly diction. I suppose it goes with the territory being a country singer, but I soon got used to it. It wasn't really annoying by the fourth of fifth listen and I started to listen to the lyrics and the quality musicianship.
It was also really good to hear the familiar vocals of Andrew Gold somewhere in the background too. I really like some of his AOR easy listening stuff and hear he lends a helping hand to some of the songs.
I really liked the up-tempo second half that began with the Everly Brothers classic 'When Will I Be Loved' and the excellent Little Feat song 'Willin'. The album is full of great interpretations of classic songs that have been changed and adapted to suit the country rock styling of Ronstadt's vocals.
A great album in many ways and one that is easy accessible and full of country rock soul.
1. "You're No Good" (Clint Ballard Jr) - 3:44
2. "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" (Paul Anka) - 3:26
3. "Faithless Love" (J. D. Souther) (also singing harmony) - 3:15
4. "The Dark End of the Street" (Chips Moman/Dan Penn) - 3:55
5. "Heart Like a Wheel" (Anna McGarrigle) - 3:10
6. "When Will I Be Loved" (Phil Everly) - 2:04
7. "Willin'" (Lowell George) - 3:02
8. "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)" (Hank Williams) - 2:45
9. "Keep Me from Blowing Away" (Paul Craft) - 3:10
10. "You Can Close Your Eyes" (James Taylor) - 3:09
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 You're No Good
2 It Doesn't Matter Anymore
3 Faithless Love
4 Dark End Of The Street
5 Heart Like A Wheel
6 When Will I Be Loved
8 I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)
9 Keep Me From Blowing Away
10 You Can Close Your Eyes