September 11, 1995 12:00 PM


Think of it as Unplugged & Unsolicited. Heart, no longer possessing the cachet for a command performance on MTV, is jumping on the acoustic bandwagon with muted reworkings of their old stadium anthems. They take to this let-an-orchestra-bloom approach from the first song, as woodwinds and strings swell up around “Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child).” The problem is that singer Ann Wilson is unwilling or unable to tone down her penetrating voice to suit the quieter setting. As a result, she totally overpowers all these coffeehouse arrangements. It’s like hearing Ethel Merman sing lullabies. Still the album, recorded live in a Seattle club in the summer of ’94, has some beguiling moments—a poignant version of “Alone” and the wistful, Joni Mitchellesque mood the band brings to “Dog and Butterfly.” But, come on, who needs subdued renditions of “Barracuda” and “Crazy on You”?

The whole idea of the Unplugged experiment was to provide listeners with an epiphany, or at least a tingle, by presenting screaming rock hits in an antipodal whisper. As time has gone by, the trend has become nothing but a trite novelty. (Capitol)

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