Earlier this month, the band Heart released their holiday record, Heart & Friends – Home for the Holidays. The album features ten different holiday tunes, two Heart renditions, a Led Zeppelin cover, and a Bob Dylan cover. The collection is available as an album and on DVD.
When classic rock icons tackle the holidays, sometimes things end up well, other times they do not. When Bob Dylan recorded his holiday record, it was surprisingly good. When Rod Stewart visits holiday classics, they are best left at the Starbucks counter. The reason for this is simple: Christmas and holiday albums by famous classic rockers have the tendency to feel contrived and commercial. Heart has managed to evade this stereotype, however, and Home for the Holidays is one of their better outings in recent memory.
The core of album is the ten holiday songs, which centralize around Christmas with a few vague winter tunes that could be applicable to any faith. The songs are performed remarkably well, immediately causing the listener to forget they are listening to a live recording. Featured performers in addition to the band include Shawn Colvin, Richard Marx, Sammy Hagar, and Pat Monahan. Each of the guests are endearing; even Sammy Hagar is surprisingly cheer filled. Highlights of the record include The River, Santa’s Going South, and Please Come Home For Christmas.
After the holiday set, Heart’s Home for the Holidays record takes a more rocking turn, visiting two classics from the Wilson sisters’ history. Barracuda and Even it Up are both given the live Heart treatment, which is always splendid. With that said, they are a bit of a let down for listeners. Audiences will half expect to receive a holiday themed rendition of the tracks, but Heart just performs them identically to the recordings. Since fans have received live outings of Heart before, these two tracks are not anything to write home about.
The Stairway to Heaven cover is amazing, as it always is when Heart performs it. Since they perform it so often now, though, it is incredibly predictable. The nearly 10 minute epic has become a staple of the band’s live performance along with a number of other Zeppelin covers. Since fans have already been treated to a superb recording of the song from their Kennedy Center Honors outing, this recording feels like a rehash of that performance. It would have been far more interesting if the Wilson sisters pulled another Led Zeppelin track out of the box to cover in order to give fans something new and fresh.
The album ends with Ring Them Bells, a 1989 Bob Dylan classic. It feels like the perfect ending to the record because it has a faith related connotation and they always performs it well. Again, the band performs it often, and fans already have a recording of them doing it, making it similarly disappointing like Stairway. Still, their guest singers weigh in on the track making it memorable and one of the best recordings from the collection.
Heart’s Home for the Holidays record is one of the best holiday themed records a classic rock act has put out, shelving it right next to Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart, Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime. It is a must-have for fans of the Wilson sisters, or anyone who wants a unique collection of songs to add to their holiday cheer that feel new and refreshing, especially considering how bland and predictable holiday music has become.
Review By Brett Stewart