A barracuda is a fast predator that lives in the sea. Has kind of a nasty reputation. Reading the lyrics (because half the time I can’t understand all the lyrics and the other half of the time I get half of the words wrong) doesn’t really get me anywhere. This story over on Ultimate Classic Rock explains that Ann Wilson was angry with some of the jerks she encountered in the music business, which sounds a whole lot like the Boss Hoss tune “Monkey Business.” The lyrics don’t really make that clear. Actually they don’t make much sense, but hey, poetic license, use your imagination.
I did. And I think the better tale of jerkdom encountered is “Little Queen,” on the same LP but not making the Top 40.
Away from the sellers, the papers said
Your crown was tight and heavy on your head
Still you danced and you sang, all night
The telephone rang
Music kept on playing from your pen.
About four and a half minutes into the song, Ann rhymes “little queen” with “magazine,” and if you ask me, thereby hangs a tale:
The group 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. They took the five unfinished tracks for Magazine and added a B-side and two live recordings. The first release of the album in early 1977 came with a disclaimer on the back cover.
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. So, Heart went back to the studio to rerecord, remix, edit, and resequence the Magazine recordings in a marathon session over four days. A court-ordered guard stood nearby to prevent the master tapes from being erased.
Now who might this queen be? Should we ask Heart’s producer at the time, Mike Flicker?
Flicker left Mushroom during Heart’s dispute with [A&R guy Shelly] Siegel over Heart’s second album. Siegel moved to the L.A. office.
But really, there’s nothing much to be gained by actually pointing a finger at Siegel, who died in 1979 of an aneurysm, a genuinely nasty way to go.