"1995 was an annus horribilis. I was unemployed from July and sank into a deep depression. When I saw that Heart had come out with The Road Home, I saw the titles and said to myself, "Big deal, yet another live album!" and never gave it a second thought. Besides, my initial reaction, now since corrected, of course, of 1993's Desire Walks On, was still etched in me. 2003 is looking to be another annus horribilis, but this time, a renewed interest in the Wilson sisters, thanks in large part to Eric Andrews--take a bow :), is trying to fend off my dark demons. Anyway, I just heard The Road Home for the first time this year and was totally blown away at the stripped down renditions of the songs, taken from acoustic concerts recorded 12-16 August 1994 at the Backstage in Seattle, representing a new phase in Heart after the arena rock reputation they achieved in the mid-1980's.The tempo for "Dreamboat Annie", despite being the Fantasy Child version, mirrors the original version, but then it has that lovely string section and flute in the Reprise version.I've always wanted to hear "Dog And Butterfly" live and that's next. But the string section of the Seattle Symphony, including a nice oboe, really melted me.The first new song is the bluesy "(Up On) Cherry Blossom Road", which due to the mandolin, I can imagine appearing on Little Queen. John Paul Jones of Led Zep, produced this album and does mandolin here. Ann introduces him as they launch into "Back To Avalon", which has the same engaging energy as the original despite the lack of electric guitars.The most noticeably difference in Heart's scaled back music are their renditions of their two #1s and #2, "Alone", "These Dreams", and "All I Wanna Do..." In fact, when I heard the opening acoustic notes opening "Alone", I half-expected "Stairway To Heaven"--well, sort of. No Ron Nevison synths here, only an oboe and mandolin. And it's sad violins and a viola that provide the opening notes for "These Dreams." And "All I Wanna Do..." becomes a piano ballad.I've heard the original version of "Love Hurts" by Nazareth and Joan Jett's cover, but Ann Wilson does it with such intensity, accompanied by guitar and piano, I really believe it.Speaking of covers, they do heartfelt string-laden renditions of Elton John's "Seasons" and not out of place on the ballad side of their Dog & Butterfly album, and Joni Mitchell's "River." That cello and oboe on "River" adds to the melancholy of the song, with Ann still demonstrating the potent range of her voice at one point.Ann really belts it out on the bluesy classic "Crazy On You", slowed down in the initial minute and a half, before things get more rousing during the remainder of the song. Speaking of classics, their rendition of chugging electric guitar classic "Barracuda" still packs a wallop despite its acoustic format."Dream Of The Archer" from Little Queen sounds much like the original, due to the mandolin and acoustic Led Zep-stylings.The engaging title track, with its jangling mandolin, jamming guitar, and heavy drums, is looking to be a new Heart classic to be played on car radios on return homes from long trips.A real treat is the interview in the booklet where one can learn the story behind the songs performed on the set. I don't know how I would've reacted to this had I bought it upon its original release, but now that I have it, expect to put this on heavy rotation."
Heart still rocks, plugged or unplugged!
Jason Fabbri | Victoria, Australia | 08/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a longtime Heart fan, the idea of an acoustic album really took my interest. Especially as one can easily bookshelf them as either an 80's "hair band" or as a really heavy 70's arena rock band. The core (heart) of Heart is truly the talent of Ann and Nancy Wilson, and the acoustic setting for this album truly shows how their voices have improved with time, not needing to be hidden behind 80's production values or overly loud guitars.The main highlights of the album are the songs that are starkly different from their studio counterparts, especially their 80's stuff. "All I Wanna Do" is performed at a much slower pace, telling the story much more effectively, and giving the song a new lease of life. "These Dreams" is even more enchanting, once again performed a tad slower, giving each ethereal line of the song just that little bit more resonance. "Alone" is "so 1987" and to hear it stripped down like it is here, really sheds new light on the song."Barracuda" still rocks, plugged or unplugged!Finally, the sound quality of this album is superb, audiophiles will have NOTHING to complain about. Crisp, clean guitar sounds....wonderful bass....Obviously they took great care in making this release sound great!"
A Musical Trip Home To Some Of Their Best Work!
Daniel J. Hamlow | 07/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll admit it! I LOVE IT!!! I was so completely shocked at this version of Ann and Nancy Wilson in an "Unplugged" style format. I was really skeptical that I'd like the album but being a Heart fan for many years and the fact that I was given this album as a gift, I opted to give it a GOOD listen before passing judgement. So, after repeated listenings, I am so thankful now that I'm not sure I can effectively express it. Suffice it to say that when I am in the mood for Heart now, THIS IS THE FIRST ONE I REACH FOR!
I don't usually like live albums but this is an Exception To Every Rule! This is not just a re-hash of their catalogue done live. This is an intimate, well executed, and beautifully arranged re-visit to some old friends with some new twists and a few new friends, along the way. The inclusion of "Cherry Blossom Road" & "Seasons" is such a fine treat and both songs are welcome editions to Heart's already incredible catalogue.
I am in love with Heart all over again! Especially the new acoustic arrangements of "Alone" and "Crazy On You". I finally went to visit another friend and he had the video of this LP! WOW!! This is one of the best things to come out of Heart since the inception of their career! The fact that there is an exceptional line up of "friends" to help out on this offering, starting with John Paul Jones (of Led Zepplin fame) who sits in with them on this set of songs among others is a special treat too! Don't miss this beat of Heart!
Sit back, relax and enjoy."
G. E. Williams | California | 09/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
Typically fans of Heart fall into one of two camps, `70s album rock fans, or `80s Power ballad fans. I am a huge fan of the former, and a fan with less fanaticism about the latter. But I also fall into a third category as a huge fan of the more acoustic pieces. Love Alive, Dreamboat Annie (the song), Dream of the Archer, etc are some of my very favorites from what is probably my very favorite band.
I still recall when I saw Heart on their first headline tour supporting "Dreamboat Annie", and the first time Ann played a bar on the flute, I was hers for life. During that show which was curiously opened by a pop group (Player.. "Baby Come Back"), the crowd was in a very mellow mood, wanting to sit on the floor and wave the lighters. Ann was kind of befuddled about the reaction, and Said "Wow you guys really like the quiet stuff; Someday we'll come back and play a show like that... But tonight we're gonna ROCK & ROLL!
To this day, it was one of the best shows I ever saw. But I still am waiting for that show. I wish I would have been in the club where "The Road Home" was recorded, because it is the show I always wanted to see. These songs are performed largely acoustic, give or take, and have a very intimate feel. A lot of performers use the line Ann does in this set of "Welcome to our Living Room", but it really has that feel. The versions on this song you can readily imagine being at one of the sister's houses and watching a jam session like this from them and a few friends.
This is definitely a CD every Heart fan should own, but I think it is an album anyone would enjoy would enjoy, even if they didn't know they were fans yet. "
Heart at Their Best
Robin L. McLaughlin | Seattle, Wa. | 08/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Road Home is not only my favorite Heart album, it's one of my favorite albums, period. I feel like it's the album where they put it all together and created something new and magical. Annie's voice (best female rock vocalist of all time) is as potent as ever and Nancy's guitar playing is matured and aged like a fine wine.
Normally I don't care for covers too much, but the few included on this album are done well, especially Joni Mitchell's "River", which is a favorite of mine, and "Love Hurts".
I was starting to list the standout cuts of their own material, but then realized that was silly, because they all are standouts. Each is a gem. I can't say enough about the instrumental and vocal arrangements for these versions. They retain what was good about the originals, but then transcend.
My favorite cut on the album is Crazy on You. It wasn't a song I paid much attention to originally. Then I saw them perform it live in concert and it blew me away as they powered through it and it became one of my favorites. The version on The Road Home is drastically different from the studio version and their previous live versions. And it's all the better for it. It blew me away yet again, this time with a strong blues component mixed in with the rock. It's worth buying the album just for this rendition alone.
The only weak spot on the album? "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You." It's a stupid song, I've always hated it, and why they ever thought it was a good idea to revisit it I have no idea. I conveniently skip over it every time. Thank goodness for the digital age.
Hard core fans probably already have this album in their collections. Anyone else who is even mildly interested in Heart needs to get this one next as it highlights everything that is great about them."