“Little Queen” by Heart (1977)
Release Date: May 14, 1977
Produced by Mike Flicker
Genre: Hard Rock, Folk Rock, Classic Rock
Chart Positions: #9 (US, Netherlands), #22 (Australia), #34 (UK, Germany), #44 (Sweden)
Certifications: 3xPlatinum (US), 2xPlatinum (Canada)
Singles: “Barracuda” #1 (France, South Africa), #2 (Canada), #8 (Germany), #11 (US), #14 (Sweden), #15 (Australia), #16 (Austria), #29 (Netherlands), #30 (Belgium), 334 (New Zealand), “Little Queen” #58 (Canada), #62 (US), “Kick It Out” #67 (Canada), #79 (US), “Love Alive (No chart data)
Little Queen is the second studio album released by the American rock band Heart. It was released in May 1977 on Portrait Records.
Heart intended Magazine to be the official follow-up album to the debut Dreamboat Annie. However a contract dispute with their label Mushroom Records, resulted in the group signing with the newly formed Portrait Records, a division of CBS Records (now Sony/BMG).
The Mushroom contract called for two albums and the label took the position that they were owed a second one. On that basis, Mushroom attempted to prevent the release of Little Queen and any other work by Heart. The dispute dragged on and ended with the court deciding that Heart was free to sign with a new label but added that Mushroom was indeed owed a second album.
Little Queen was released 14 May 1977 and Magazine was re-released 22 April 1978. With the hit single "Barracuda", Little Queen outsold Magazine handily, eventually achieving 3x Platinum status.
After acquiring a substantial following with Dreamboat Annie, Heart solidified its niche in the hard rock and arena rock worlds with the equally impressive Little Queen. Once again, loud-and-proud, Led Zeppelin-influenced hard rock was the thing that brought Heart the most attention. Two sisters – Ann and Nancy Wilson – take over hard rock, led by Ann's supreme pipes and Nancy's ax-picking finesse. While "Barracuda" and "Kick It Out" are the type of sweaty rockers one thought of first when Heart's name was mentioned, hard rock by no means dominates this album. In fact, much of Little Queen consists of such folk-influenced, acoustic-oriented fare as "Treat Me Well" and "Cry to Me."
Led Zeppelin influences abound, from Wilson's "Summer-of-My-Smiles" phrasing on "Dream of the Archer" down to guitarist Roger Fisher's Page-ish intro on "Go On Cry" and his ferocious riffing on "Barracuda" and the title track. The latter are the roughest and best tracks on record.
Written by Ann and Nancy Wilson together with guitarist Roger Fisher and drummer Michael DeRosier the lead single “Barracuda” is an aggressive early try at heavy metal, but some refer to it as a heavy hard rock number notable for a galloping guitar riff and its use of natural harmonics. Upon its release "Barracuda" became Heart's second top-20 hit in the U.S., peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has become the band's signature song and is a staple on American classic rock radio playlists. In other parts of the world it was a much bigger hit reaching #1 in South Africa, #2 in Canada and #8 in Germany.
Ann Wilson revealed in interviews that the song was about Heart's anger towards Mushroom Records' attempted publicity stunt involving her and her sister Nancy Wilson in a made-up incestuous affair. The song particularly focuses on Ann's rage towards a man who came up to her after a concert asking how her "lover" was. She initially thought he was talking about her boyfriend, band manager Michael Fisher. After he revealed he was talking about her sister Nancy, Ann became angry and went back to her hotel room to write the original lyrics of the song. Producer Mike Flicker added that Mushroom was so obtuse in the contract negotiations that Heart decided to discard the album they were working on, Magazine - which the label still released in an unfinished form - and instead sign with the newly formed Portrait Records to make another record, Little Queen. As Flicker put it, "'Barracuda' was created conceptually out of a lot of this record business drama. Barracuda could be anyone from the local promotion man to the president of a record company. That is the barracuda. It was born out of that whole experience."
“Little Queen” was released as the second single from the band's second album Little Queen in 1977. The song is a midtempo rock and roll number similar in style to Heart's past hit "Magic Man." Though the song has become a classic tune for Heart fans it did not fare well as a single charting at #62 in the US and #58 in Canada.
“Kick It Out” another hard rocker was the band’s third single from the album charted even lower than “Little Queen” while the smooth rocking folk-tinged fourth single “Love Alive” missed the charts completely.
Album highlight “Dream of the Archer” displays the band’s versatility with a medieval sort of mood.
In it's May 21, 1977 issue Billboard Magazine featured "Little Queen" as one of four Spotlight Albums in their new release section. The following is the review that appeared:
Following it's phenomenal debut album and single success on the small Mushroom label, Heart's switch to the small-roster CBS Portrait label finds the Northwestern sextet irrefutably proving that sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson can sing, write and play rock with all the hard drive and mystically lush overtones Fleetwood Mac is renowned for. Heart's music has complex textures and turbulent energy. The Wilson ladies are complete rockers without putting on any fake pseudo-macho butchiness. The Mike Flicker production brings lavish to the string-picking and synthesizer virtuosity of this brilliant group.
Best Cuts: Barracuda, Little Queen, Dream Archer