Heart: “Love Alive”
I say it without any hint of embarrassment: Heart was a great band in the ’70s. From their 1976 debut, Dreamboat Annie, up through their turn-of-the-decade 1980 rocker, Bebe Le Strange, they were consistent in their occasionally inconsistent mix of rockers and folky mysticism, distilling Led Zeppelin’s repertoire down to its less sexist elements and making it look good to boot. I was definitely a fan of that period of their music, and I certainly can’t discount the appeal of two very attractive women rocking out. But I make no apologies…I still like the music. However, when they transformed into a schlocky hairband in the years to follow, I just couldn’t bring myself to go there with them. No “What About Love?” for me, thanks. But they had several albums of mostly excellent material prior to that, and if I was forced to choose a favorite, it would probably have to be 1977’s Little Queen. Any album kickstarted by “Barracuda” can’t be too bad, and throw “Kick It Out” into the mix and you have all the makings of a rockin’ good time. But no, the album also has many quieter moments as well, my favorite being “Love Alive.” Maybe because its initial quietness comes as such a change from “Barracuda” immediately before it, but also because it features great dynamics, beautiful acoustic guitar work by Nancy, and great singing by Ann, “Love Alive” feels like a centerpiece to the album, despite being its second track. On vinyl, it certainly feels like the centerpiece to Side One, in any case.
You may have noticed I’m using Grooveshark a lot more than YouTube recently for the songs. I’ve decided to do that more often, particularly when I can’t find any interesting video of the original version of the song. The best thing I could find for “Love Alive” was a slide show of Heart in all their phases — and somehow listening to this while seeing photos of them with their ’80s look was too jarring. So listening to it without any visuals is definitely preferable. (By the way, Heart has released a pair of albums of strong material over the past few years; it’s nice to see they’ve moved beyond the schlock and returned to their strengths.)