1971 and 1974 were the years when the two albums featured on this timeless collection and I dare you to think otherwise. Ronstadt’s big, powerful and pure voice is given room to express its range on the former Linda Ronstadt as you have later day Eagles members Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, Don Henley and Randy Meisner lend support, plus the likes of Buddy Emmons, Pete Kleinow, Jimmie Fadden and Herb Pedersen and others to many to mention do their bit.
Heart Like A Wheel helped launch her career as producer Peter Asher and ace vocalist and musician Andrew Gold came to partner the then young, blossoming talent.
Such is Ronstadt’s command of the treasured lyrics of classic songs ‘I Fall To Pieces’, ‘Crazy Arms’ and the Johnny Cash all-time favourite ‘I Still Miss Someone’. I never fail but stop in body or mind (or both) when I hear her sing these great country songs. For her control and accompanying musicians are so in tune with one another it is untrue. Plus, Ronstadt enjoys a freedom to do her own thing.
Heart Like A Wheel features an amazing set of contemporary songwriters that range from Lowell George (‘Willin’) to James Taylor (‘You Can Close Your Eyes’) by way of Chips Moman / Dan Penn (‘Dark En Of The Street’) and John David Souther (what a stupendous performance she does of ‘Faithless Love’; man this an awesome piece of music!) and there’s more. Lots more since Ronstadt also includes a soulful version of Hank Williams’ ‘I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)’ —with Emmylou Harris on harmony vocals and Anna McGarrigle title track piece ‘Heart Like A Wheel’. Wistful and tender it (same goes for her sensitive version of Woody Guthrie's ‘Ramblin’ ‘Round’) is a far cry from the gutsy ‘You’re Go Good’ (Clint Ballard, Jr)as she lets her hair down just likes she does on the powerful Fontella Bass hit ‘Rescue Me’ and her splendid re-make of the Everly Brothers’ ‘When Will I Be Loved’ and Jackson Browne's ‘Rock Me On The Water’. Boy, Linda really pulls ups the tracks here!
There is another song that gets me every time and that is Livingston Taylor’s heart jolting ‘In My Reply’ as Ronstadt lays anchor and makes the song her own as Emmons offers great support on steel guitar. It doesn't get any better than this no matter who you are and that near includes anything else done by Ms Ronstadt (pin-up girl of the West Coast music scene during the mid/late 1970s). Of the three bonus tracks; a and b-sides of singles ‘Living Like A Fool’ and ’He Darked The Sun’ that was also featured on her album ‘Silk Purse’; another classic!
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