Saturday, December 31, 2011

Canned Heat - Canned Heat '70 Concert Recorded Live In Europe 1970

This title captures Canned Heat during a pivotal era in the band's sordid career. The lineup features Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals), Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass), Aldolfo "Fito" de la Parra (drums), as well as Harvey Mandel (guitar), who had replaced Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar) before the Heat's appearance at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in August of 1969. Perhaps more importantly, these are among the last live recordings with Wilson, who would O.D. just prior to the group's return to Europe in the fall of 1970. The unsuspected success of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together" from the Future Blues (1970) long-player prompted Canned Heat to take their blend of R&B-infused boogie across the Atlantic in the spring of 1970. With Mandel handling a fair share of the guitar work, the combo's focus has turned increasingly improvisational. The tight and compact reworking of vintage R&B numbers have given way to extended jammed-out arrangements, such as the funky and limber mid-tempo rendering of "That's All Right Mama." Wilson's harp blowing punctuates the steady chuggin' cover of Willie Dixon's "Bring It on Home," which smoulders beneath Hite's growling lead. Speaking of Hite, the frontman is in rare form as he retorts an audience suggestion for "Dust My Broom" with "oh man, Fleetwood Mac does that..." and a request for the 20-plus-minute "Parthenogenesis," immediately barking back "Oh yeah...(laughs) ya got any acid?" The antithesis of this joviality is the dark and strung-out "Pulling Hair Blues," which showcases a stark and emotionally fragile side of Wilson. "London Blues" seems to be a spontaneous jam led by Wilson's unmistakable bottleneck slide guitar introduction and distinctly atonal vocals. Besting the aforementioned studio version of "Let's Work Together" is the spirited rendering heard here, which is greeted with appropriate enthusiasm. AMG.

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