Dreamboat Annie Live
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2007, Volume 14, #12
Written by Matt Parish
Fri December 7, 2007, 06:45 AM CST
In the opening interview featured on Dreamboat Annie Live, Ann Wilson describes the setting in which Heart was born: "In 1975Ė1976, there was a line down the center. You were either a disco queen or you were a singer songwriter like Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell. There was no mold for women rockers at all. We kinda made our own mold."
With Dreamboat Annie, Heartís groundbreaking debut, the doors for women in rock broke open and blew away, forever and completely. Hypnotized by The Beatlesí legendary appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Ann and Nancy Wilson refocused their casual interest in singing and playing, and they galvanized their dream of rock ínĎ roll success by disregarding their gender entirely. Moving to Vancouver because Ann Wilsonís then-boyfriend was there avoiding the draft for the Vietnam War, the group "holed up" and worked on its sound. After some time and a few successful buzz-worthy gigs covering songs from male-dominated bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Who, Heart was signed to Mushroom Records. The rest was history.
A lot of the songs on Dreamboat Annie grew from the Wilson sistersí frustration over their countryís involvement in the Vietnam War. Crazy on You was written to address their dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and it made a plea for everyone to open their hearts to each other. This mantra of peace and harmony from these self-proclaimed "love zealots" helped to fuel Dreamboat Annieís thematic and timeless songs. Nancy Wilson has referred to the outing as an ambitious piece of work that "is not just innocent and lucky."
Now, some 30 years later, Shout! Factoryís Legendary Albums Live series of CD and DVD releases features Heartís first concert performance of Dreamboat Annie in its entirety. Since many of the best shows of the 1970s were never recorded ó due largely to technological infancy ó a project like this provides a way of peeking into the past and imagining what it must have been like to hear these songs for the first time. Anyone who lived through the era certainly understands what an impact Dreamboat Annie had. Magic Man and Crazy on You were in constant rotation on the radio, and deeper cuts, such as the title track, were huge fan favorites.
For a show that was 30 years in the making, Heartís performance of Dreamboat Annie is rather gritty and loose. There are several near-miss notes on Magic Manís signature, leading intro. Nancy Wilson even does a double-take by stopping and starting again during her legendary acoustic assault during Crazy on You. Although these "warts and all" moments easily could have been eliminated by re-recording the song or by careful studio doctoring, the Wilson sisters have never been the type to pull their punches or pull wool over the eyes of their fans.
After the triple-punch opening of Magic Man, Crazy on You, and Dreamboat Annie, Heart settles into its lesser-known album cuts. Aided by the wonderful Stockholm Strings, Soul of the Sea, (Love Me Like Music) Iíll Be Your Song, and Sing Child assume a dreamier ambience than the original versions. Each is reinvented here in a lush landscape of layered vocals and violins. This concert, however, is by no means a sleeper. Ann Wilsonís vocals have never been better, and she literally shreds her way through the performance, showing why she always has been regarded as one of rock ínĎ rollís finest singers and leading ladies.
To be able to hear this record performed all the way through in a live setting is akin to finding a doorway to the past. Yet, it also provides relevant commentary about the present. When Ann Wilson sings, "Even though there's a scar still fresh from the war/Donít think about it no more/Let new love flow," it is impossible not to think about the troops currently serving our country and protecting our way of life.
The encores that are featured on Dreamboat Annie Live form a very interesting combination of Heartís influences. After treating the audience with Mistral Wind, a gem from Dog and Butterfly, Ann Wilson introduces what she calls, "a few songs that showed you what we were listening to when we were writing the songs for Dreamboat Annie." Curiously, Heart then proceeded to cover a tune that was recorded several years after Dreamboat Annieís release: Pink Floydís Goodbye Blue Sky. Perhaps, the selection was meant to continue the antiwar theme that was such a strong part of their inspiration for the album, or maybe it was meant to promote Wilsonís solo endeavor Hope & Glory. The result, though, is that anyone who understands rock history will find her statement a little jarring.
Fortunately, Dreamboat Annie Liveís other songs are more timetable-friendly. Heartís blistering recreations of Led Zeppelinís Rock and Roll and Misty Mountain Hop as well as its glorious, show-closing rendition of The Whoís Love, Reign Oíer Me not only have long been a part of the bandís repertoire, but they also have become fan favorites. In the end, Heart, with the help of the Stockholm Strings, has recreated what its halcyon days were like. It turned its performance at the Orpheum Theatre in April 2007 into a stellar concert that was stuffed to the brim with rock íní rollís essential ingredients...passion, power, and Heart.
Dreamboat Annie Live [CD] is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Dreamboat Annie Live [DVD] is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box