Rock The House Live!


Capitol, 1991

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It seems a bit odd that Heart would have waited until 15 years into their career to put out a full-length live album. (The live portions of Magazine and Greatest Hits Live don’t qualify.) It also seems a bit odd that, on Rock The House Live!, Ann & Nancy Wilson and crew would leave off “All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You,” the song that really made their Brigade album take off.

So what better way, one would think, to follow up an album that had proven to be a smash hit for Heart than with a live disc? If only they had put out a memento from that tour which was as memorable as the studio album. Rock The House Live! is not a bad album; the problem is that it’s also not a great album. It just…is, and that’s a problem that a lot of live discs have.

Oh, things start off good with a one-two punch of tracks from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Brigade, “Wild Child” and the criminally-forgotten “Fallen From Grace.” Following this with a third song from the same album, the tepid “Call Of The Wild,” isn’t as solid of a move.

In fact, one mistake of this disc is that six of the disc’s 14 songs -- 13 if you don’t count the 57-second throwaway “The Way Back” -- are culled from Brigade, and by doing this, a good portion of Heart’s catalog, and thus their more memorable songs, are left off this set. Now, I’m all for including lesser-known tracks in a concert setting -- you need to remind people that an artist is more than one or two songs. But the overreliance on these ends up hurting the album. I mean, can we really justify putting a cover of “You’re The Voice” on this over including a song like “Dog And Butterfly,” “Even It Up” or “Alone”?

Mistake number two is the all-too common pitfall with a live album, namely, transferring the energy of the live show to a little plastic and aluminum disc. In this case, listening to the Wilson sisters doesn’t make me feel like I’m listening to them in concert -- and I happened to see Heart on this particular tour, so I know how exciting their live show could be at this time. In all fairness, this is one of the most difficult things for any band to accomplish, so at least Heart is in good company.

If anything, Heart comes off as a band taking themselves a little too seriously on Rock The House Live! Whereas Heart was not above whipping out a Led Zeppelin song to cover in previous years, or just having some good-natured fun with the music, this disc seems like Heart is trying too hard to prove to people that they are a serious band. (Memo to the Wilson sisters: the fans knew this all along; you were just preaching to the choir.) In the end, what should have been a live disc celebrating all that Heart had accomplished over their career turns out to be an average live disc that fails to inspire the listener. By no means is it a bad album -- the performances on this one are still good -- but it doesn’t stand out as one of the brightest gems in Heart’s discography.

Rating: C

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