Heart’s ‘Dreamboat Annie Live’ Coming On October 23

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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.dreamboat-annie-live

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.

6 Comments

  1. rocker99 October 7, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Being a fan of classic rock yet not liking live albums is quite a bizarre premise to me. Studio albums are of course great and essential, but live albums bring that music to life, literally! I’m an avid music collector (over 15,000 albums), and once i have the complete recorded works of my favorite artists and all of their live albums it’s on to bootlegs after that, to get the real *raw* sound of the songs. The live experience is just so much more earthy and “real”.

  2. RealRockNews October 7, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Hmmmm, “bizarre premise?”

    You are of course, entitled to your opinion, but I find nothing “bizarre” about preferring the sound of a nice clean studio album over one with lousy sound from some concert arena with a few thousand screaming fans in the background.

    To each his own, eh?

  3. Ed October 11, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Both studio and live albums are fantastic – just different from each other. I’m the fairly rare person that loves live albums, probably because I’m a concert fanatic. I’m also an audiophile, but if a live album is not recorded particularly well, it’s generally not a problem with me – I enjoy the atmosphere and the music if the performance is there. I can also appreciate a band performing a song differently.

  4. Peter wolf October 14, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    It is quite an interesting comment about “live albums”, there have been classics over the years where bands can “stretch” out that little bit extra
    go into overdrive or at times go on for that little bit longer, that it may or may not fit into the original song. I guess a good example is “Made In Japan” the usual 4 minute version of “Space Trucking” and the 20 minute live track is a little long and tedious, but to each his own, favourite live album would be “Rockin’ The Filmore” by “The Pie”. Getting back to “Heart” the core of the band obviously are the sisters and they have had
    some all time classic songs, although they are heavily influenced by “Zep”
    and why not, i have no doubt even with the inclusion of a couple of Zeppelin songs the music will be top stuff, really looking forward to it.
    Bring it on.

  5. gilbrt March 23, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    I don’t have any problems with your point of view regarding the drumming of Ben Smith.
    I am a drummer myself and as you say, when you’re dealing with a classic album, you should play the song note by note. I do really like the 70’s productions, more than the later very ice cold productions from digital studios. I don’t have to mention the 80’s recordings.. ha ha the worst period in rock productions.
    I’m not a fan of Ben Smith’s drumming, in fact I prefer Michael Derosier his drumming in the old days. I don’t know what kind of drumsound he has these days, but most of the time classic drummers go with the flow and enjoy the newest of the new recordingtechniques and play crappy drumkits with too small shells (golden earrings cesar zuiderwijk is a good example).

    When the DVD is in store in The Netherlands (were i am coming from) I will buy this DVD and ofcourse i’m very curious about the result. Ofcourse in case of the albumversion vs Ben Smith’s drumming I’ll hold my breath…

    When will the old band get back together, Fossen, Fisher, Derosier and Leese, these people were a different brand… I think with their past it lies a bit complicated with reunions and stufff.
    Keep the rock Wilson’s! I Love IT!

  6. fernando perdomo November 30, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    the simple reason they are off point drum wise is that the drummers on the best songs were funky black sounding 70s session guys

    to my ears the drums sound like vistalites with no bottom heads

    22 12 13 16 with additional concert toms for fills

    my fave fill is right before the clapping in love me like music…

    reminds me of jim gordon

    very insane

    derosiers drumming on dreamboat is weak cus he was trying so hard to copy bohnam with his drums but not his attack

    close miking did not help

    to my ears

    the vistalite kit used on magic man, crazy on you , dreamboats, how deep it goes , and love me like music is the best drum sound heart ever had

    lots of space for the other instruments to shine

    listen to the cymbals in crazy on you

    almost sounds like they are at an angle .. levon helm sound.. kinda like a thin ride as aposed to a crash

    very very cool

    Ive met ben smith and hes a nice guy…

    but.. totally modern drum sounds suck!!!!

    id rather hear a nice ludwig or fibes or gretsch kit with coated heads

    -f

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