Strange Euphoria sparks memories of a (Chilliwack) Coliseum concert

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 25, 2012

By Steve Newton

Over the years I’ve heard quite a few folks fondly reminisce about seeing Heart play their high-school gym out in Buttfuck, B.C., back in the year of our lord, 1976. That was the same year that the Ann and Nancy Wilson-led band released its debut album, Dreamboat Annie, which has to be one of the best Vancouver-made albums ever. Guitar-heavy tunes like “Magic Man”, “Crazy On You”, and “White Lighting & Wine” haven’t lost one iota of their rockingness over the decades, in my unhumble opinion.

I never got to see Heart at my high school, Chilliwack Senior Secondary–although I did see the Stampeders there, and they were pretty cool, what with “Sweet City Woman” and all. For Heart we actually had to swig our lemon gin in the shadows beyond the doors of the Chilliwack Coliseum, the same hockey rink where days before I might have crosschecked somebody’s helmet clear off–or gotten pounded into submission for just that type of cheeky play. I remember standing in front of the stage fairly entranced by the Les Paul wizardry of lead guitarist Roger Fisher. Or maybe I was entranced by the ravishing beauty of Nancy Wilson. Coulda been both I ‘spose.

At any rate, I was crazy on that band, and stayed that way up until around the Dog and Butterly album of ’78. They lost me in the eighties with all those overwrought AOR hits that started clogging the airwaves, but I never gave up on the early stuff, which is why I was psyched to see a copy of the new boxed set, Strange Euphoria, show up in the mail today.

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First thing I did was skip to track 9 on the first disc, a previously unreleased version of “White Lightning & Wine” recorded live at the Aquarius Tavern in Seattle on June 1, 1976. All that beautiful old Heartiness came floating back, driven by the beat of Michael DeRosier’s trusty cowbell. That tune is followed by a stellar version of another barnburner, “Barracuda”, recorded live at L.A.’s Universal Amphitheatre a year later.

Apart from previously unreleased live tracks, the three-CD Strange Euphoria set includes a ton of demo tracks for the hardcore Heart fan, plus a DVD of a 1976 KWSU-TV broadcast for all those–like myself–who’d never agree that just one version of “White Lightning & Wine” is nearly enough.

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