Canned Heat

Canned Heat Blues Band

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Canned Heat founder and guitar great Bob Hite once described his band as "a rock band with country/blues roots" and perhaps a little less modestly, "the first and greatest boogie band ever." Canned Heat's "greatness" has always seemed to elude them by a hair, however, regardless of their versatility and devotion to the strange and wonderful mutations their music endured, particularly in the '60s. But these dudes do nothing if not persevere. Having lost their signature falsetto and lowdown harp man Alan Wilson in 1970, 1996's Canned Heat Blues Band fronts "The Bear's" third vocal replacement, Robert Lucas, who wisely doesn't pretend he can cover those cool old road-trip-on-acid songs (like "Going Up the Country") in a particularly familiar manner. Instead he stylizes "Quiet Woman," "Iron Horse," and "One Kind Favor" in a murky, bottom-dwelling register. To his credit, he works hard blowing that harp Heat-style, although he cannot reach the flutter and intensity of many other drop-in Heat men. A sad note: this is the last contribution we get from the ever-cool Henry "Guitar Gangster" Vestine. Since there are virtually no original members remaining and the sound seems good but far from its source, maybe this current incarnation should consider changing its name. It's canned all right -- but it just ain't the late great Heat.

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