Goldmine - 4 Stars - Excellent
Canned Heat: Bob "Bear" Hite (vocals, harmonica); Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Henry Vestine, Harvey Mandel (guitar); Larry Taylor (bass); Frank Cook, Adolpho "Fito" de la Parra (drums).
Unknown Contributor Role: Canned Heat.
This ten-track set contains essential sides from the classic rock blues and boogie combo Canned Heat, culled from their first four long-players: Canned Heat (1967), Boogie With Canned Heat (1968), Living the Blues [Akarma] (1968), and Hallelujah (1969). Notably, this discounts Canned Heat Cookbook (1969), a hits package that cashed in on their association with the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, and was the first LP to contain the single "Going up the Country." The core personnel during this seminal run includes Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/vocals), Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass), Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar), and Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals). Frank Cook (drums) stayed long enough to play on their eponymous debut LP, and was replaced by Aldolfo "Fido" Dela Parra (drums) prior to Boogie With Canned Heat (1968). The Heat's interpretations of both blues standards, such as Muddy Waters' "Rollin' & Tumblin'," or the funky update of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together," were lauded for their uncanny authenticity. With an almost cerebral respect for their craft, few would have guessed Canned Heat did not hail from the R&B meccas of Chicago, Memphis, or St. Louis, but rather the Los Angeles-area artist colony of Topanga Canyon. Their light-hearted reworking of William Harris' "Bullfrog Blues" also became an enthusiastic favorite, staying in the Heat's concert repertoire for decades to follow. In addition to the slightly psychedelic and rambling original "On the Road Again," they were also responsible for the anti-speed anthem "Amphetamine Annie," and the extended musical memoir, "Fried Hockey Boogie." With Hite at the helm, each member is presented as they solo, building up to an open-throttle jam, concluding with the proclamation "...Don't forget to boogie!" When first issued, Best of Canned Heat [EMI] (1990) was one of the only comprehensive CD collections highlighting the band. In the wake of Best of Canned Heat [Disky] (1999), or the two-disc Uncanned! The Best of Canned Heat (1994), this title may come up short. However, those seeking a cursory compilation will probably find all they need here. ~ Lindsay Planer
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