When Heart burst upon the music scene in 1976 they were labeled by some the “female Led Zeppelin”. And while that’s ridiculous….it wasn’t totally inaccurate. The band played a wide range of rock styles, just like Led Zeppelin. They also featured lots of different acoustic-based songs featuring not only guitars but mandolins and all sorts of instruments. And while I’m not sure this is true….to my knowledge every live show Heart has performed featured a Led Zeppelin cover of one song or another.
Which brings us to this video, from Heart’s 2002 Seattle homecoming show. The band Heart has long been synonymous with sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who have enjoyed long, successful careers. However, I feel neither has ever been given the appreciation they deserve for their instrumental accumen. Ann Wilson is well-regarded as one of the very best female vocalists in rock history…and on this show she still wails as strong as ever. But she also plays the guitar, flute, mandolin, ukelele and I imagine other instruments (I have no idea what the thing is that she picks up at the end of the song in preparation for the next song). Sister Nancy is the more accomplished guitarist, and a fine singer in her own right….and on this song she takes over the mandolin responsibilities.
I know of at least 14 different Led Zeppelin songs Heart has covered over the years….but to me none are more surprising, difficult or impressive as this version of The Battle of Evermore. Seriously, who would even think of trying to cover this oddity within the LZ catalog. But the Wilsons pull it off with aplomb. It features the duo’s fine harmonies and acoustin instrumental capabilities…which is the heart of their success.