Canned Heat is an American blues and rock band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1965. The group has been noted for its efforts to promote interest in blues music and its original artists. It was launched by two blues enthusiasts Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, who took the name from Tommy Johnson’s 1928 “Canned Heat Blues”, a song about an alcoholic who had desperately turned to drinking Sterno, generically called “canned heat”, from the original 1914 product name Sterno Canned Heat, After appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals at the end of the 1960s, the band acquired worldwide fame with a lineup consisting of Hite (vocals), Wilson (guitar, harmonica and vocals), Henry Vestine and later Harvey Mandel (lead guitar), Larry Taylor (bass), and Adolfo de la Parra (drums).
The music and attitude of Canned Heat attracted a large following and established the band as one of the popular acts of the hippie era. Canned Heat appeared at most major musical events at the end of the 1960s, performing blues standards along with their own material and occasionally indulging in lengthy ‘psychedelic’ solos. Two of their songs — “Going Up the Country” and “On the Road Again” — became international hits. “Going Up the Country” was a remake of the Henry Thomas song “Bull Doze Blues”, recorded in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1927. “On the Road Again” was a remake of the 1953 Floyd Jones song of the same name, which is reportedly based on the Tommy Johnson song “Big Road Blues”, recorded in 1928.
Since the early 1970s, numerous personnel changes have occurred. For much of the 1990s and 2000s and following Larry Taylor’s death in 2019, de la Parra has been the only member from the band’s 1960s lineup. He wrote a book about the band’s career, titled Living the Blues. Mandel, Walter Trout and Junior Watson are among the guitarists who gained fame for playing in later editions of the band.
And here´s another pretty good Canned Heat album:
A little tear came to my eye when the editor brought me a stack of CDs. There at the top was Canned Heat – the boogie band that peaked my interest in R&B, gulp, 30 years ago.
“Could this be the same band? I mean, aren’t they all dead?” I asked him. He shook his head, told me three of the original members are on the album and to have fun. And I did.
Singer Bob Hite, guitarists Alan Wilson and, recently, Henry Vestine, have gone to their reward, but the rhythm section of drummer Fito de la Parra and acoustic bassist Larry Taylor remains. And that’s one fine engine to have in your band and it boogies better than ever. The new Heat has slide guitarist/harp player Robert Lucas on vocals, Greg Kage on electric bass and lead guitarist Junior Watson has been a Canned Heat-er for a while now. Vestine, who died in December of ’97, made this his last work, playing on every cut and his sound remained distinctive to the end.
The Canned Heat of the late ’90s is pretty good and so’s the album, if you can look at them with a fresh eye and not with 1968-vision. The band that played Woodstock was magic and unique in their time. The new Heat isn’t magic, but it is a better-than-average blues band doing a good job of keeping the franchise boogying.
Lucas adds some energy with his slide playing, singing and original songs, but to be honest, the originals are only average at best. A version of Elmore James “Stranger” is excellent and a great opener for the CD, but I winced when I saw they had re-done Canned Heat classics “Going Up the Country” acoustically, “Boogie Music” and “One Kind Favor” here. But darned if they didn’t pull em off and in the process, saved the album.
I don’t know what the plans are for this band. They’ll probably stay together in some form or fashion forever. They remain popular in Europe and still have their fans stateside.
Give this one a listen. They brought a smile to my face and revived some great memories. I want to hear more from them. (Jack Clifford)
An outfit with deep blues/rock roots is Canned Heat Blues Band. Three members who date back to the 1960s version of the band, drummer Fito de la Parra, lead guitarist Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine, and bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor, are on this latest self-titled disc on Ruf Records. They’re joined by Robert Lucas on guitar, harmonica, and vocals, Junior Watson on lead guitar, and Greg Kage on electric bass. This CD contains no big surprises, and is kind of what you’d expect from Canned Heat. If you miss the 60s, then take a listen to “Boogie Music,” which has a real feel of that wacky decade to it. The band also does an acoustic version of the Alan Wilson/Canned Heat standard “Going Up The Country”, with good slide guitar and raspy vocals from Lucas. By the way, this session constituted the last recordings by Vestine, who died in Paris late last 1997. (Bill Mitchell)
Robert Lucas (slide guitar, vocals,harmonica)
Gregg Kage (bass on 01., 03., 05., 07., 10. + 11.)
Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra (drums)
Larry “The Mole” Taylor (bass on 02., 04., 06., 08. + 09.)
Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine (guitar)
Junior Watson (guitar)
Brenda Burnes (vocals on 07.)
Juke Logan (organ on 04.)
01. Stranger (James/Robinson) 5.06
02. Quiet Woman (Lucas) 4.33
03. Iron Horse (Lucas) 5.12
04. Jr.’s Shuffle (Parra/Watson) 4.14
05. Creole Queen (Lucas) 3.45
06. Keep It to Yourself (Williamson II) 4.17
07. Boogie Music (Talman) 4.33
08. Going Up The Country (Wilson) 3.19
09. See These Tears (Lucas) 2.29
10. One Kind Favor (Talman) 4.25
11. Oh Baby (Lucas/Parra) 4.31
12. Gorgo Boogie (Lucas/Parra) 3.44
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