[Passionworks] -- I don't recall exactly when I purchased Passionworks on cassette, but I know I got it at my local G.C. Murphy store (colloquially known as "Murphy's") in my hometown. This long defunct variety store had a music section that, because the store was a short walk from my home, could easily keep me occupied. And by "occupied" I do mean "shopping" but not necessarily "buying" – I didn't have all much much pocket money in those days.
But, like I mentioned at the outset of this post, I did purchase a cassette copy of Passionworks. At the time of purchase, I did not know any of the songs on this release. In fact, even now, I don't recall ever hearing anything from this album on the radio. I did, of course, know Heart from their previous releases, so I must have thought, "Hey, good band with a new album. Why not?"
Passionworks was Heart's seventh studio album and it was released 40 years ago this week (August 20, 1983). It was the band's last recording for Epic, and the first with their new rhythm section, Denny Carmassi (drums) and Mark Andes (bass). It also marked Heart's shift from their folk-oriented sound to a more mainstream rock approach.
Oh, and this was the album just before Heart embraced a sort of pirate glam look for their 1985 eponymous comeback.
If you happen to know any tunes from Passionworks, they will probably be the two singles. "How Can I Refuse" was the first single and it's also the opening track to side A (for either the album or the cassette). "Allies" was the second single and it kicks off side B. As I recall, I might have done a great deal of fast-forwarding or rewinding to access these two songs. "How Can I Refuse" was a great opening track, and I'm surprised it didn't get more attention back in 1983. But "Allies," a slow-burning, anthemic ballad written by Journey's Jonathan Cain, really should have been a huge hit.
"How Can I Refuse" topped out at #44 and #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the US Billboard Top Rock Tracks respectively. That's pretty respectable, although not as good as their previous singles. "Allies," however, peaked at a mere #83 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Passionworks charted at #39 on the US Billboard 200 and #4 on US Rock Albums charts, but received decidedly lukewarm critical reactions. And that might be fair given that the two singles really are the only standouts on the album. But there are a few sleepers here, and they include "Sleep Alone," "Together Now," "Heavy Heart," and (the very early 80s sounding) "Ambush."
I cannot tell you how many Sunday mornings I listened to this album while preparing the newsstand for its early morning opening. Check it out, and maybe it will, as in the lyrics to "Ambush," take you by surprise.
Flashback: Passionworks (August 20, 1983)
That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!