So Heart (or, more accurately, the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy) have got onto the game of releasing an earlier album of theirs -- their first in fact -- in its entirety, performed live.
Dreamboat Annie was originally released in 1976, so how do these songs hold up in a live performance 31 years later?
Dreamboat Gets New Coat of Paint
Well, what's nice is that in live performance, you can pretty much freshen anything up to sound however you'd like, almost like HD on CD!
This live set opens up with well know Heart classic "Magic Man" and it still sounds as strong as ever. It's a good album opener and a great live set opener. Ann Wilson's voice is simply phenomenal, even after 30+ years, 12 studio albums and all those years of touring!
Next up is the first of three short (this one is just over a minute long) interludes of "Dreamboat Annie" itself, which is a laid back, acoustic vocal piece.
Some gentle acoustic work leads into the awesome "Crazy On You" -- a killer track!
"Soul Of The Sea" is next, at just under 7 minutes long, changes its pace along the way, and in places makes me think Bon Jovi might have taken a hint for their "Bed Of Roses" track. Still good stuff!
"Dreamboat Annie" reprise time again next! It's the same tune we heard earlier, but add a minute more this time.
"White Lightning and Wine" is next and is another strong Heart favorite with their audience. Ann adds the warning at the end to NEVER mix white lightning and wine! I know that now, but didn't back then!"
The essence of the generation that these songs were written in becomes clear, as many sound quite prog rock-like, a la Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. "Love Me Like Music) I'll Be Your Song" is one such song, with just a hint of Janis Joplin in the vocal delivery.
The introduction of the Stockholm Strings Orchestra from Sweden comes next as the band perform "Sing Child", which is presented in quite avant garde style. Although the original version kind of dragged, in my opinion, this live version bounces all over the place, not only a Zep like backing track, but with interludes of flute and harmonica along with the strings. This makes for a quite odd mix, not my favorite track.
"How Deep It Goes" is a pleasant enough ballad with more of a bluesy, folk type vibe, but I like it.
The final installment of "Dreamboat Annie" follows. It was the last track on the original album, and sounds beautifully laid back. Nancy and Ann harmonize quite nicely! This is the full track.
Dog and Butterfly
Next, switching from Dreamboat Annie to their Dog and Butterfly album, we get the deep and lengthy (8:25) "Mistral Wind". This is quite an excursion, very prog rock in places.
Then it time to pay a little tribute to some of their influences around the time they started out. FIrst there's the Pink Floyd track, "Goodbye Blue Sky" from The Wall, which is interpreted very well here.
And what Heart show would be complete without a little Led Zep thrown in for good measure? Ann jokingly asks, " ... and this song would be in which key?" as they launch into "Black Dog". Excellent.
I've already mentioned Ann's vocal talents, but with Heart you simply cannot ignore the guitar talents of one Nancy Wilson. On stage, she comes more alive than you'll ever hear on any studio album. She is seriously riffing away towards the end of "Black Dog" with a fury.
Not just one Zep track though, as "Misty Mountain Hop" is next. Although Led Zeppelin's music was never straight rock, there was always a twist in each song. This track plays in such a way that it sounds off in places, but then that was Zep!
How Does It Rate?
To wrap up, they close the set with The Who's "Love Reign O’er Me", complete with beautiful piano intro, and an awesome song it is, too! Pete Townsend is a fantastic songwriting talent.
The crowd are eating this all up big time and it seemed to clearly be a fun night for the band, as I also discovered when I finally got to see Heart live after many years of missing them, on their Jupiter's Darling tour a few years back now.
Heart is a great live act who I strongly recommend that you check out if you haven't already. So it isn't the original Heart band, not even the strong lineup they had in the 80s, but both Ann and Nancy obviously pick their backing band seriously well!
I didn’t have the original Dreamboat Annie album from 1976, so this was just like hearing something new and fresh. I have to say, these tracks have aged well. No major complaints here. So a couple of tracks really weren't my bag, but does that doesn't mean that this isn't a strong live release.
A well deserved 4 out of 5 from me!
by Alun Williams