Album: No Regrets
. . .
SVT was one the more interesting what-ifs? to come out of San Francisco’s punk/new wave scene. While they were probably suspect because they had an ex-hippie ringer on bass — Jack Casady was on all of the Jefferson Airplane albums and founded Hot Tuna — their single album, 1981’s No Regrets, straddles the line between noisy punk and power pop very convincingly.
That was probably because of the quality of the songs by guitarist/singer Brian Marnell, who penned basically the entire album, which peaked with a re-recording of their 1979 “Heart of Stone,” which was one of the first songs to ever be released on influential indie 415 Records, though the album itself was on a different label.
Leading off with a snare tattoo by drummer Paul Zahl, the re-recorded “Heart of Stone” is tougher and faster than the original single, exploding with Marnell’s slashing, swirling guitar hook, and after a a couple of withering rolls from Zahl, Marnell explains his predicament.
The closer I get to losing you, the more I see your heart of stone
You may be tougher than diamonds, but still you feel all alone
Ohhhhhhhhh, baby’s got a heart of stone, she does
Ohhhhhhhhh, baby’s got a heart of stone, oh yeah
OK, yeah, Marnell wasn’t going to win any awards for lyrical insights, but his utter intensity singing it more than made up for it. Especially to 19-year-old Jim, who first heard it while doing those closed-circuit shifts at the pre-on-air KFSR and rushed out to buy No Regrets in early 1982.
Besides, as the song progresses, there was always some cool guitar riff, bass run or drum roll right around the corner, even as the back half of the song is mostly Marnell repeating “baby’s got a heart of stone” over and over again, though I do love the strangled scream that would normally lead to a guitar solo, but this was 1981, so instead he crunched some power chords.
All of this was catnip to me, and while I can hear some of the limitations in the recording itself now, I still love it. Sadly, there was never a follow-up, as Marnell died in an auto accident after the release of the album, cutting short what might have been an highly interestingly career. (Or not, as many of those SF bands flamed out or totally lost the plot after a couple of albums anyways.)
One of the things I discovered while researching this piece — you know, googling “SVT” and “Heart of Stone” — was that there as a recent compilation of SVT’s recordings called Always Comes Back, but it only has the original single version of “Heart of Stone,” not the much better album version, so I don’t even know what’s up with that.
“Heart of Stone”
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