Before he joined David Coverdale in the late-'80s phenomenon that was Whitesnake, guitarist Adrian Vandenberg led a pretty decent early pop metal template of a band based in his homeland of the Netherlands. In fact, the group - to which Vandenberg kindly and humbly lent his last name - actually made a relatively substantial, straightforward brand of hair metal before glam elements helped create that somewhat derogatory term. 1982's "Burning Heart" happens to be not only a pretty strong early example of the genre's later trademark power ballad form; it also showcases the instrumental precision of Vandenberg himself. Never a spotlight member of Whitesnake (laboring somewhat in the shadows of frontman Coverdale, former Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo and veteran hard rock guitarist John Sykes), Vandenberg did all he could to launch his band but never could quite get over the hump.
This track may never be among the most memorable '80s power ballads, but its earnest romantic tone influenced a number of lesser bands that would become far more famous when the timing became truly right for big hair, big drums and guitars, and big hearts on sequined sleeves. Built on the strength of Vandenberg's acoustic and electric guitar interplay but also by the languid vocal delivery of singer Bert Heerink, the song manages to construct one of the cleanest, aching verse melodies of this particular era of hard rock. If nothing else, you get some really good Dutch names here, but I propose that there are distinct musical treasures to be gleaned as well from these Low Countries lads.
- Sample or download "Burning Heart" here.
- Compare prices on Vandenberg CDs here.
- Compare prices on Whitesnake CDs here.
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Atco Records