Two more classic rockers that show they still have it are sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. The show that made this new CD and DVD possible was performed during April of this year at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angles and was broadcast live on Direct TV.
I’ve had a chance to check out advance copies of both the CD and DVD and can say without hesitation that every serious Heart fan should add at least the DVD to their collection.
As readers may know, I am not a big fan of live albums and this has not changed with this release. I say that in fairness to this release because I’m the kind of fan who will put on the studio album and enjoy it about a thousand times more than I would any live recording, regardless of who is performing.
That being said, the CD did not do a whole lot for me. Dreamboat Annie is my favorite Heart Album and since I have the studio version, you aren’t too likely to hear the live version emanating from my speakers any time soon. Those that enjoy live albums will probably find this to be as good or better than any other live album out there.
The DVD is another matter, and if you are a Heart fan that feels the same way I do about live albums in general, it’s the DVD you want to spend your money on for sure. The visual experience combined with the music changes everything for me and I really enjoyed watching the Wilson sisters perform this classic album.
In addition to Dreamboat Annie, they also performed a few covers that they describe as some of the music that influenced them during the time they were writing the album.
The bonus features on the DVD are interesting and I particularly enjoyed hearing some of Ann and Nancy’s comments about the making of the album as well as the photos from that era.
Speaking of the bonus section, I do have to take issue with some of the fan comments that were part of the bonus section. A couple of fans commented that the songs were performed at that show “note for note” or words to that effect and that brings me to my only real criticism of Heart as it exists today.
Most of the musicians performed as the fans on the bonus section claimed and to my ears, most of the guitar and keyboard work was pretty much “note for note” for me. And for my money, that is exactly the way a classic album like Dreamboat Annie should be performed. I find it quite difficult to imagine what could be done to improve upon the original in this particular case.
The drummer on the other hand was an entirely different story and as someone who is more than very familiar with all the drum parts on the original album, drummer Ben Smith’s performance left a lot to be desired.
Overall, I don’t consider him a bad drummer but when I hear the songs from Dreamboat Annie, I want them to sound as they originally did. I have no way of knowing why so many of the more complex fills were simplified they way they were and perhaps it was something that he was requested to do for the sake of the live performance. I don’t know.
Whatever the reason, it gives the impression that he is not up to the task of performing in a way that was true to the original version and for me that was very disappointing. Both “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” are two of my favorite songs of all time and they just don’t have the same effect on me when they are not performed the way that I expect them to be performed.
The original drum track on both those songs, although not incredibly difficult from a technical standpoint, were amazingly complimentary to those songs and I cannot imagine how they could be improved upon. Can you imagine anyone wanted to improve upon the Mona Lisa or Sistine Chapel by changing a few brush strokes here and there? I thought not.
I suspect I’m in the minority with this particular criticism but when it comes to reviews, I have to let it all hang out. Maybe I just expect too much from a live performance. Remember, I am a studio album kind of guy through and through and I know quite well how I want my favorite songs performed. Live or otherwise.
In fairness, I must also say that living up to the standard set by an album like “Dreamboat Annie” is no small feat. Despite the age and technical shortcomings of the recording equipment that was available when that album was originally recorded compared to what’s available today, it remains one of my all-time favorites from a mixing an engineering standpoint. An absolute work of art and tribute to some amazing engineering talent.
Despite my problems with the drums, I really did enjoy watching this DVD. There’s no doubt that the Wilson sisters can still rock with the best of them and sound as good as any of the other live recordings I have heard from them through the years.