This platter captures the 1970 incarnation of Canned Heat with Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals), Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass), Aldolfo "Fito" de la Parra (drums), and newest addition Harvey Mandel (guitar), who had replaced Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar) in 1969. They headed across the Atlantic in the spring of 1970 on the heels of "Let's Work Together" -- a Wilbert Harrison cover that charted within the Top Five in Europe. That outing yielded the combo's first concert disc, Live in Europe (1971) -- which had been issued almost a year earlier in the U.K. as Canned Heat Concert (Recorded Live in Europe) (1970). These are also among the final recordings to feature Wilson, whose increasing substance abuse and depression would result in an overdose prior to having re-joined the band for another stint in Europe in the fall of the same year. Indeed the brooding "Pulling Hair Blues" from this effort is marked not only by some decidedly dark and strung-out contributions, but more subtly, Hite's tentative introduction of Wilson -- indicating he had not been playing for the duration of the set. The Heat's performance style has shifted from the aggressive rhythm and blues of their earliest sides to a looser and more improvisational technique. The opener, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right Mama," is given a greasy mid-tempo groove over Hite's vocals . Mandel shines as his guitar leads dart in and out of the languid boogie. Although presented as a medley, "Back on the Road" is more or less an inclusive number with only brief lyrical references to "On the Road Again." Mandel's sinuous fretwork melds flawlessly with Wilson's harmonica blows. The powerful rendering of the aforementioned "Let's Work Together" is a highlight, with Canned Heat in top form as Wilson's electric slide riffs recall their seminal sound.
Canned Heat '70 Concert: Recorded Live in Europe Review
by Lindsay Planer