Bebe Le Strange
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/11/2007
By 1980, the Wilson sisters and their band Heart were in a state of uncertainty. Guitarist Roger Fisher had left the band and the musical scene had changed from album rock to...well, there wasn’t a whole lot of certainty there, either. On one side, you had punk; another side, disco gasping its final breaths; a third side, hard rock. Coming off their Dog And Butterfly disc, which was already questioning where their musical hearts (no pun intended) lay, it was no wonder that confusion reigned supreme in the Heart camp.
As an answer, the band recruited guitarist/songwriter Sue Ennis and released Bebe Le Strange, a disc that tried to reconcile the gentle acoustic side of Heart that had always been present in the band with all three genres.
This disc spawned a hit in “Even It Up” -- a track that, sadly, is probably the best on the whole disc. In terms of singles that Heart had released to that point, it hardly qualified as their best work, but stopped short of being as bad as, say, “Heartless."
Where Heart could have saved some serious face is on the track “Rockin’ Heaven Down,” a power ballad that could have easily been a track to single-handedly save this disc. That is, had the ending of the song not been drawn out incessantly. Chop a good two minutes off this song, and you have a definite winner. As it is now, the extended end kills the forward progress the song made.
You want punk/hard rock? Heart tries to answer this request with “Break,” an adreanaline-powered, poorly-thought-out track that is more puked out than played. Sorry, gang, but this was never a speed metal band. You want disco? “Strange Night” is your answer… wait, no, it isn’t. It’s a weak ploy to try to latch onto a dying musical trend, and not doing so successfully.
You want the gentle side of Heart? There’s the rare success in this category with the acoustic guitar break “Silver Wheels,” which knows when to make a graceful exit and clocks in at just around 90 seconds. To be honest, I’d have preferred to hear more music like this on Bebe Le Strange. The other gentle songs in this vein, “Pilot” and “Sweet Darlin’,” just do not have the songwriting power behind them to create a good song, so even if the performance had been good it wouldn’t have made for a decent track.
The re-issue of Bebe Le Strange throws on an additional two tracks of crap. “Jackleg Man” is proof positive that, sometimes, leaving songs on the cutting floor is a good thing. The other track is a live version of “Break” -- great, just what we all needed. I can’t believe they actually played this loser live, or that someone thought it would be a good idea to release this as a bonus track.
Bebe Le Strange somewhat lives up to its title in that it is a strange album for Heart, trying to cover several different musical genres while pleasing no fans of any of them. Of all the albums from the early portion of Heart’s career, this is one to definitely stay away from.