The Road Home

Heart

Capitol, 1995

http://www.heart-music.com/

REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/20/2009

In late 1992, as their alter-ego band, The Lovemongers, the Sisters Wilson recorded a four-song EP (The Battle Of Evermore) that contained four cover songs done in acoustic style, including the Led Zeppelin title track, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” Todd Rundgren’s “Love Of The Common Man,” and their own, “Crazy On You.”

The project was exceptionally well received and after finishing off the next Heart studio album, Desire Walks On (1993), Heart opted to pick up where The Lovemongers left off and the result was 1995’s The Road Home, the best live album of their career.

The band, and Ann Wilson’s outrageously explosive voice (there is none like her in the pantheon of female rockers, but plenty who’d like to be like her), are ideally suited to the acoustic approach. Produced by John Paul Jones, who also plays on the disc, it sounds both intimate -- instruments are crystal clear and balanced well with the voices -- and steadfastly rock and roll.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The acoustic approach transforms many of Heart’s old battleaxe songs (“Dog And Butterfly,” “Straight On,” “Dream Of The Archer,” “Crazy On You”), breathing new life into them. But it also renovates some of their lackluster newer material (“All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” and “Alone”) and brings out the hidden songs within.

Now, before we go insane, let it be stated clearly that “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” is still song tripe of the worst kind -- and no, it does not matter that the song went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100; it is lyrically and morally inane. (note to Mutt Lange: ever heard of artificial insemination?) But the acoustic setting brings out the beauty of the music, would that the song had been given weightier lyrics to carry.

But the version of “Alone” here causes the power-pop version from Bad Animals to fade from memory as Ann shows just what the power of her voice, even when restrained, can do. When she hits the money note in the second chorus, I swear you can hear the audience not breathing -- I know you can feel it.

The band includes several covers, which is appropriate for a live album, and for the most part makes them work. Boudleaux Bryant’s “Love Hurts” in Ann Wilson’s hands certainly sounds like it does. There is no masking the urgency and the pain. As Ann says in the disc’s liner notes: “We do it really high so when it gets to the top, it is really shredding and I just love it. You can just barely make it, so you can’t control how you sound, no matter how you try, so you’re getting real torment.”

Other cover highlights include a stunner of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” which is one of those songs that you think you don’t really want to hear again until delivered in this way. A cover of the old Elton John/Bernie Taupin “Seasons” doesn’t fare so well, but by the time you get there it doesn’t matter.

And, of course, “Barracuda” rocks, even acoustic. It’s a song for the ages. It never gets old.

One last shot of advice: stick around for the “hidden” title track. What a nice way to close out.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


Comments

How many albums did these guys make!? Jeeez!
The above is definitely my nominee for funniest comment of 2009 (so far). Point taken... but have you checked the Yes or (deity help us) Zappa pages lately? The Wilsons are pikers compared to either.








© 2009 Michael Ehret 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 Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.