In amongst the radio hits such as “Magic Man”, “Crazy On You”, “Straight On”, and “Dog & Butterfly” on Heart’s 1980 Greatest Hits /Live collection (a compilation of hits and live tracks) lie two very unusual songs – “Hit Single” and “Strange Euphoria”. Unusual in their career, much less on this album. It’s Heart being experimental, even a little avant-garde , albeit in a non-serious way. “Hit Single” is a comedic sound collage of sorts, a sort of hallucinogenic eavesdrop on a Heart recording session, with other random dialogue and sounds dropped in. Eventually, the song ends in audience applause as lead singer Ann Wilson, playing the part of a clown, says she “can’t go out there and do the same old jokes over and over, ya know – but once I put on that nose it just kinda transforms me into the Bobo I know that audience wants to see…” At the sound of the stage door closing, the funky disco beat of “Strange Euphoria” fades in along with some slinky guitar stabs. The vocals start and we know this isn’t your average disco song, as the weirdness from “Hit Single” seems to have carried over into this song as well. “Progressive longitudinal laboratory disturbances” indeed.
What are they doing here, these two studio tracks, which were neither greatest hits and aren’t live songs? Epic Records may have been wondering the same thing, as they were removed from the cd version of the album, so that the whole thing could fit on one disc (making them instant rarities). They have since only reappeared together on a special limited edition of The Essential Heart in 2009. “Hit Single” was never released as a single, despite it’s name, though “Strange Euphoria” was the b-side of the “Tell it Like It Is” single taken from the Greatest Hits/Live album and was included on this year’s Strange Euphoria box set. From the box set liner notes:
NANCY WILSON: “Strange Euphoria” is a comedy collage, and a title we’ve always liked. We even used the name for our music publishing company, and now this box set. We cut the song “Strange Euphoria” in the studio between other songs, and this was our chance to blow off some steam. We had run up against so much sexual pigeonholing. This song is us being exactly all of who we are — way outside where girls are expected to go.
ANN WILSON: There was a little smoke in the air at the “Strange Euphoria” session. Very loose and uninhibited, like a disco down the rabbit hole.
I think of “Hit Single / Strange Euphoria” as one song, with “Hit Single” as the prelude or intro to it, and I think they work better as one. But, judge for yourself: