THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – FIONA’S ‘HEART LIKE A GUN’

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

FIONA – HEART LIKE A GUN (1989)

In all honesty, when it comes to the third Fiona album Heart Like A Gun, I didn’t remember much about it. I knew it existed of course, but I had never heard it before. I pretty much just remember this album being the one that made her a household name for five minutes or so. Due largely to the song “Everything You Do (You’re Sexing Me)”, the duet she did with Kip Winger. Of course, I don’t remember much about the song either. I know there was a video that if memory serves was considered “steamy” back in the day. But I thought the song was more of a ballad. Then I listened to Heart Like A Gun for the first time and was surprised that the song has much more of a rocker feel to it than I thought.

The song is the second one on the first side of the album so you do get the “hit” song out of the way pretty fast. After that, I had nine songs to dig into that were pretty much all-new to me.

Even though in 1989, with the idea of aiming music towards being as commercially accessible as possible being in full force, I was at least a little taken aback when the album’s opening cut “Little Jeannie (Got The Look Of Love)” struck me as way more of a pop song than a hard rock one. Well, at the beginning of the song anyway. As it progressed, the music had much more of rock edge to it. In the end, I did find that I quite enjoyed the song as a whole.

Whether a song was pure rock or geared towards drawing in a pop audience, I was actually rather intrigued by the first side of Heart Like A Gun. The song “Mariel” is a power ballad that actually emphasized a lot more of the “power” part of that song descriptor. Fiona’s voice really kicks things up a lot during the song. The remaining two tracks are more uptempo in nature with the music’s hard driving rhythms giving “Where The Cowboys Go” (the 2nd single from the album) and “Draw The Line” a nice little burst of crackling energy.

When you move over to Side Two of the cassette, you get immediately hit with two strong rockers in “Here It Comes Again” and “Bringing In The Beast”. Both of these songs double down on that kind of “fully cut loose” rocking fury. Fiona’s voice is incredible here and I really dug the “Here It Comes Again” song a lot. If push comes to shove, I’d say it’s my favorite cut on Heart Like A Gun.

The song “Victoria Cross” seemed to be a bit wanting when I listened to it. The power ballad just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. However, I did enjoy “Look At Me Now” a lot. It starts out a little bit more in a midtempo groove but it grows into a faster paced rocker over the song’s run time.

The album’s closing song “When Pink Turns To Blue” rides that midtempo vein from start to finish but I thought it worked perfectly as it gave Fiona’s voice a little bit extra room to convey a more dramatic vocal take without crossing over into melodrama.

As the Heart Like A Gun started playing, I was worried that I was in for an album that tried to make Fiona into some kind of pop princess. But I was rather keen to discover that the album was far more of an entertaining hook-filled rock and roll release instead. Forgive the cliche, but Heart Like A Gun ended up pretty much hitting the bull’s-eye for me and I’m going to enjoy listening to this album a lot more in the future to come.

NOTES OF INTEREST – I checked out the album’s Wikipedia page and besides singing on the “Everything You Do (You’re Sexing Me)” song, Kip Winger played bass on the Heart Like A Gun album as well. He was joined by fellow Winger bandmate Rod Morgenstein on drums. Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis played guitar. However, according to the actual liner notes on the cassette, David Glen Eisley and Dweezil Zappa were among a host of other musicians involved in the creation of the album as well.

The writing credits for the album is an eclectic and impressive group too. According to the album’s Wikipedia page, Mark Mangold, Mike Slamer, Martin Page, Aldo Nova, Foreigner’s Alan Greenwood, Blackhawk’s Van Stephenson and even actress Madeleine Stowe are listed among the co-writers for the album’s ten tracks.

In total, Fiona has released five solo albums. The last one, Unbroken, came out in 2011. She’s also worked as an actress, appearing in an episode of Miami Vice and was the female lead in the movie Hearts Of Fire opposite Bob Dylan.

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