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Heartland - 1991 Heartland

ARTIST: Heartland
ALBUM: Heartland
SERIAL: 397 121-1 (vinyl), 397 121-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1991
CD REISSUE: 2011, Yesterrock, YR3971212


LINEUP: Chris Ousey - vocals * Gary Sharpe - guitars * Rik Carter - keyboards * Phil Brown - bass * Steve Gibson - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Teach You To Dream * 02 Carrie Anne * 03 Don't Cast Your Shadow * 04 Real World * 05 Fight Fire With Fire * 06 That Thing * 07 Walking On Ice * 08 Paper Heart * 09 Paradise * 10 Promises


My god, the UK rock press are an unforgiving lot aren't they? This album was literally trashed by the big name mags. Only our friend from Boulevard Magazine Mark Ashton (now at Now And Then Records) gave this album a superlative review, and so it was that he was proved right. This is an excellent piece of melodic rock, in my humble opinion not too far away from the likes of Dare, Strangeways and FM, as being one of the best UK product to be produced in this genre/style. For those who remembered Chris Ousey with his earlier band Virginia Wolf, they would have known of his promise as an upcoming singer. With Heartland's debut, he carries off the mantle of best UK rock vocalist. With Gary Sharpe, the two had known each other for years but came together initially as a songwriting team but knew the chemistry was just too good so they shopped a deal. In came A&M. Along with the package came James 'Jimbo' Barton as a producer, fresh from his exploits with Queensryche. He really lays the icing on the cake, and you can tell when you listen to this expansive and lush recording versus some of Heartland's later albums, what a difference the production makes.

The Songs
We get booming tracks like the inspirational 'Teach You To Dream', the sweeping melodia of 'Carrie Ann', which is like Dare on steroids, while the band's coup de grace is 'Real World', which moves in the same breath as classic Strangeways, it has to be heard to be believed. Exceptional stuff. 'That Thing' has all the hallmarks of NY favourites The Ladder, big drums, pounding rhythms, and eighties keyboard parps, while 'Walking On Ice' could be Glass Tiger circa 'Diamond Sun' or 'Simple Mission'. 'Promises' is another belter, parping keyboards and the choruses are right down Giuffria and White Sister alley. The pace is slowed slightly on 'Paper Heart', but the production is glossy and full. The ballads are great too, with 'Fight Fire With Fire' being the pick of the bunch.. very heartfelt.

In Summary
To this day, this is the pick of all the Heartland albums. 'Wide Open' is a close second. The Escape Music material is OK, though the production is nowhere near as good as this one. Give Chris and Gary 10/10 for effort and productivity. However, they get docked a point for not being particularly happy with the overall result of the debut. What are you on about chaps? This is awesome.

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#1 | george_the_jack on June 01 2008 16:42:28
Reviewing this album, actually I cannot be fair! This is one of my all time favs. This is the DEFINITION of AOR! Heavenly melodies under crystalline production sung by the unique voice of Chris Ousey. Chris' voice is damn so underrated! This guy should stay comfortably beside David Coverdale and Ian Gillan but he never was so promoted and...lucky! listening to that GEM and the two previous under the label of Virginia Wolf, you have the impression that your speakers cannot afford his powerful voice. He combines the great moments of David Coverdale and other times you feel that you are listening to a ''Jean Beauvoir'' in a white edition!! In a few words this is a masterpiece of AOR and melodic rock that don't dare to overlook! Just listen to ''Teach you to dream'' and ''Real World'' and you'll be convinced! 10/10 Hail Chris! We love you!
#2 | gdazegod on June 02 2008 09:00:00
YouTube Video:
#3 | Jez on June 16 2008 01:52:58
The big label debut, and what a debut. Up there with the top Brit AOR releases of the nineties. Not as good as Virginia Wolf, but alot better than the next 3 or 4 Heartland releases which sounded second rate compared to this one.
#4 | sir lord baltimore on April 23 2009 11:26:25
Fantastic AOR-record. Brilliant vocals by Chris Ousey. Perfect production.
#5 | Vincenzo on October 06 2011 10:56:57
Heartland = Dare in slow motion. However great A.O.R. album.
#6 | gdazegod on October 06 2011 13:02:03
This album gets better with age!
#7 | swingkingandy on December 25 2017 10:46:08
Well no doubt I am one of the very few people that thinks Ousey as a vocalist is highly overrated. but it's all a matter of personal taste innit? Dare,Strangeways,Fm comparison is spot on for me.

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