Dog & Butterfly


Portrait Records, 1978

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


A long time ago... well, okay, just over a year ago... we looked at Heart's 1977 release Little Queen. On that disc, Ann & Nancy Wilson found themselves torn between the worlds of folk and rock. One year later, the world was treated to two Heart records - one of which, Magazine, was the cause of a couple of lawsuits against Mushroom Records.

The other record, Dog & Butterfly, was further evidence that the Wilson sisters wanted to keep their feet in both the folk and rock camps - only this time, they enjoyed much greater success in doing so, though their folk work still was better hands down.

An incredibly short disc (eight tracks clocking in at just under 40 minutes), the disc kicks off with a live performance from Memphis, "Cook With Fire". The track itself is nothing special, and one wonders why they bothered to feature a live version instead of trying to wow the listener with a live number. (Then again, I seem to recall that "I've Got The Music In Me" off my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Magazine was also a live number; maybe this was their answer to that track.)

Probably the best-known song off this disc is "Straight On," a funky rocker with a powerful syncopated beat. Despite its being overplayed by classic rock stations around the country, the track still maintains a lot of its power and charm - and when heard in the context of the whole album, still sounds fresh.

The title track holds some very special memories for me. I can still remember a friend of mine in college teaching me how to play "Dog & Butterfly" on the guitar - afterwards, we performed it together in a coffee house on campus. But listening to the original version almost ten years since that night, I realize just how intricate the acoustic guitar work on this song really was (and how far I was from playing the actual guitar chords). Both Ann and Nancy's vocals shine on this one, though I would now question if Michael Derosier should have played drums on this song - it sounds so much better with just guitars, bass and vocals.

The folk aspect of Dog & Butterfly makes up the best portion of the album; both "Lighter Touch" and "Nada One" stand out among some of the group's best work. But the merging of folk and rock finally succeeds on "Mistral Wind," a song which starts off in a softer vein and gradually builds to a more powerful conclusion.

Like on Little Queen, the rockers suffer a bit - "High Time" is an okay song, but not one I'd want to write home about, while "Hijinx" isn't worth the time to check out.

But by no means is Dog & Butterfly a bad album - this was Heart's strongest album to that point, and is one of their albums I'd call criminally ignored. With the exception of "Straight On," I'd be hard pressed to hear any of the songs on this album played on the radio. (I do remember a few years back hearing a live version of "Dog & Butterfly" which was absolutely beautiful - though I have no idea where it came from. It was no bootleg - the quality was too good.)

Dog & Butterfly is a great illustration of the musical struggle that Heart was facing in the late '70s - and it ranks as one of my favorite albums.

Rating: B

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Portrait Records, and is used for informational purposes only.