The end of Heart's transitional era, with the comeback soon
29-year old wallflower | West Lafayette, IN | 09/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"By 1983, Heart had primarily been remembered as one of the few rock bands led by women, in fact two, Ann & Nancy Wilson. But it had been three years since they had a huge hit, and even that was with a cover of Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It Is". While PASSIONWORKS, their last album for Epic Records, was devoid of any hits, it's still an album that is unworthy of its bad reputation. PASSIONWORKS shows the Wilson sisters as sexy, seductive yet not submissive females, while their previous albums had them projecting a rougher exterior. This departure didn't win them any new fans or keep their old ones, as the single "How Can I Refuse" failed to crack the top 40. But while audiences may have "refused" to buy the new Heart, PASSIONWORKS still contained some underrated favorites in rockers like "Ambush", "[Beat By] Jealousy", and "Love Mistake". The one song that should have been released was "Allies", a rousing power ballad typical of the era, but not stereotypical. And no wonder, it was written by Jonathan Cain of Journey. The only truly embarassing song on here is "Johnny Moon", which sounds like the soundtrack to a very bad teen movie from the '80s. It's a good thing this has remained unnoticed. In some ways, PASSIONWORKS was an album that didn't have much thought into it. After all, it was the last album under their contract with Epic. But it showed that Heart may have just needed to cool off before re-thinking their approach, and eventually revive their career with their self-titled 1985 album that would bring them more success than they saw in their '70s days."
Enjoy this album? How Can I Refuse?
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 07/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the first time, the lineup of Ann & Nancy Wilson, Howard Leese, Mark Andes, an alumnus of Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, and Denny Carmassi came together to make history. However, history would have to wait until they released Passionworks. To put it briefly, many of the songs here are more vital versions of their Private Audition style music, but I also see how some songs here were recycled and laden with Ron Nevison's wall of synth in Bad Animals. Hmm, how would Keith Olsen have produced Bad Animals? Makes one think."How Can I Refuse" describing the future road of an unexpected love is a more polished and solid guitar rocker in the fashion of the harder Private Audition songs. One of my favourites here is the slow-rocker "Blue Guitar", the title instrument being the one true thing in a woman rocker's life. The sound here is reminiscent of "Perfect Stranger" except better. There's an ironic line here foretelling their future: "Just about to pack it in/Mr. Money Biz rolled in/Paid the way-broke the band""Johnny Moon" is a nice ballad about a dreamer who's "out there in another dimension. The chugging guitar that commences "Sleep Alone" and the catchy hooks and chorus--"Lonely woman gets so cold/with no loverboy to hold/one more night she's on her own/Nobody meant to sleep alone"--could've made this rocker a great breakthrough single. It's a more pure rock than its future synth-laden cousin "Who Will You Run To."The mid-paced "Together Now" is so like "Love Alive" from Little Queen and a predecessor of "R.S.V.P." from Bad Animals.Jonathan Cain, yes, that Jonathan Cain, wrote one of the best songs here and on any Heart album. The magical power ballad "Allies," which given its piano opening, sounds like a Journey song but it just ain't for Steve Perry. Depending on tried and trusted friends in the chaotic world is the theme here. "Allies with our back against the wall/I will answer when you call/And take on the odds/For what we believe is true." This verse espousing pragmatism is something many people are forced to do: "We search our hearts/to justify the reason/and draw the line/to meet somewhere halfway." The guitar and keyboard solos are followed by the Wilsons' trademark harmony vocals."(Beat By) Jealousy" details the poisonous effects and the ensuing vicious circle envy can have. It can't get from where "love can't breathe" to where one can "hook the blow between the eyes. Every round--we lose more ground." Ann really belts out the emotion on this one.The mid-paced rocker "Heavy Heart" has a slight bluesy inflection, while Nancy's solo vocal "Love Mistake" is another winning and comforting ballad from the more delicate and honey-voiced Wilson sister. Wonderful imagery: "through the windows and lace/making patterns on your face/exposed with all your pain." There's some hope here: "After time has healed and made it right/We'll still be looking in each others eyes/and through it all/it's friends who will survive.""Language Of Love" is a slow-rocker in using love where words won't do. And "Ambush" is a mid-paced number where Ann warns a tough guy of a certain woman who will cause even him to surrender.Sue Ennis does her usual song co-writing contributions, and the first two songs is done by her and all the members of Heart. While I like Private Audition, Passionworks is better in terms of overall sound. Why it did even worse than its predecessor is unfathomable. A lack of promotion, the changing climate of music in the 1980's? This was their last album for Sony and they were about to throw in the towel, but then came Capitol Records, Ron Nevison, Mike Chapman, and Holly Knight, and a whole new chapter in their history.Had I reviewed this in 1989, when I first got this and was already getting burned out on them, I would've given this 2 stars. Now, it deserves every star I give it, one for each member of the band."
Music to unwind the mind and soul
Daniel J. Hamlow | 09/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What an awesome piece of work!! I am a huge Heart fan, and nothing suits me better after a stressful day, than to kick back and jam out to Passion Works!! This album is truly a work of art, however, a word of warning: If you're looking for your everday-average-tasteless-boring-run-of-the-mill-generic album, you might want to check the rap and r&b section."
Collectors must have
Andrea L. Hana | 12/27/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a Heart fan, you should not neglect having this one in you collection. It was not one of their most popular works, however it has some great hits and some songs that are familiar to the nostalgia conscious. ("I haven't heard that one in a LONG time!") It will surely make you smile."