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CANNED HEAT The Boogie House Tapes Vol 3
Ruf 1146 (2008)

Canned Heat

There's something funny about the concept of Fito de la Parra , Canned Heat's leader and 'survivor in chief' meticulously working his way nearly 4 decades of Canned Heat's audio history. This after all is the band that came closest to the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in real life.

And yet in spite of the deaths, the debts, the busts and the outlandish behaviour, 'The Boogie House Tapes Vol. 3' somehow manages to capture some of the salient highlights from the first three decades of a band who now boast a 44 year existence.

The journey takes us from their jug band origins through heavy duty biker boogie to their rebirth as a blues band in the company of the likes of Gatemouth Brown, The Chambers Brothers and John Lee Hooker.

Overlooking the obvious duplication of several tracks that appear on countless other Canned Heat collections, there's enough beef to satisfy any number of Canned Heat carnivores. And if nothing else these tapes suggest Canned Heat remain a unique musical conduit conjoining jug band blues with boogie and rock blues.

The 1969 Fillmore performance of 'You Don't Have To Go' finds them deep in the blues with guitarist Harvey Mandel, while Bob Hite is in good voice on the heavy 'Project Blues', a style that with a sprinkle of additional boogie led the band international appeal.

Indicative of the time is the harp led boogie 'I'm Her Man'. Originally a short album track and a raucous B-side shuffle boogie, here it is transformed into a loose jam starting out with a Blind owl harp led down-home country feel, before Harvey Mandel adds a stinging guitar solo and Larry Taylor stretches out the number with an interminable bass solo before Al finally returns with the coda on flighty harp.

In retrospect it's quite funny now to find the band actually trying to break new ground on 'Future Blues'. Bob Hite bellows out the vocals on the impressive title track as the band rock out imperiously and after an almost apologetic intro they further launch into 'So Sad (The World's in a Tangle')' one of their very best boogie outings.

The first version of 'On the Road Again' is an Al Wilson led hypnotic groove from 1968 while CD 2 opens the early 70's with the Bob Hite version which is a guitar led piece and much more abrasive version reflecting the shift of the band from their Country roots to urban boogie.

The band also swings hard on 'Hill's Stomp' and happily the performance is strong enough to overlook the bootleg sound quality. The same applies to 'Let's Work Together', while the Bob Hite inspired 'Black Jack Blues' suggests that the 'Future Blues' album was really one of their best efforts. Of further interest is the collaboration with Gatemouth Brown and the Chambers Brothers on two excellent outings 'Election Blues' and the best boogie of them all 'Midnight Special'.

This is followed by a quite unexpected gem. Recorded in Australia in 1976, 'Before Six' is a quite startling jam and arguably as good as anything any of the Hite led 70's line-ups cut.

The final brace of tracks in the company of John Lee Hooker is the perfect finish to a 2 CD collection that in spite of many reservations is surprisingly good.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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