Canned Heat

The Canned Heat Cookbook: Their Greatest Hits

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This initial best-of package, Canned Heat Cookbook, was released rather quickly in 1969 after the band's initial burst of creativity resulted in four albums and two hit singles between 1967 and 1968. Friend/manager/producer Skip Taylor lists tons of the band's engagements from 1966 on the gatefold of the album, which constitutes its only liner notes. Dozens and dozens of gigs, from the Monterey International Pop Festival to Club 47, the Boston Tea Party, and what they call the Woodstock Pop Festival, are all listed and this is a staggering resumé suited well to a greatest-hits package. There are baby photos of the five bandmembers (and the obligatory thanks to their moms for providing them), as well as a very cool cover design by Dean Torrence which features his artistic rendition of each performer along with a couple of butterflies. They look somewhat like the Band here, and their rocking blues was actually somewhat similar to the dudes who backed up Bob Dylan. But the sound of their records differed from that other ensemble, and Al Wilson's personality shines through on "Goin' up the Country" and "On the Road Again," two blasts of '60s pop which were quite different from anything else on the radio at the time. Repackages are often arbitrary and one can quibble that the song named after the group, "Canned Heat," is missing, but this best-of album is worthy of the moniker regardless and contains "Bullfrog Blues" and "Rollin' and Tumblin'" from the 1967 self-titled debut; tracks from 1968's Boogie With Canned Heat, including "Amphetamine Annie," the hit "On the Road Again," and the 11-minute-plus "Fried Hockey Boogie"; and material from yet another 1968 album, Living the Blues, including "Goin' up the Country," which was as identifiable to the band as "On the Road Again" with Alan Wilson's high-pitched, earnest, nasal request giving the audience a musical handle, as well as "Boogie Music," also getting the nod from the Living the Blues disc. Three selections from 1968's Hallelujah album -- "Time Was," "Sic 'Em Pigs," and "Same All Over" -- round out the original vinyl version of the LP. The group would release a live album on Liberty in 1970 after this compilation, and hit again with "Let's Work Together" from another studio album in 1970, Future Blues. For those who want to get a good glimpse of this band, Canned Heat Cookbook is the place to start. Len Fico at the Fuel 2000 label put together a 2002 compilation which features the same tracks along with the addition of the third hit, "Let's Work Together."

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