This is actually a CD repackage of the 1966 recordings that appeared back in 1970 on the Janus LP Vintage Canned Heat. Produced by Johnny Otis, this was the group in their early formative stage with the lineup that would play on their official 1967 debut album: Bob Hite, Alan Wilson, Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, and Frank Cook. All but two of the songs are covers of well-worn blues staples, mostly from the classic electric Chess catalog, including "Spoonful," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Pretty Thing," "Got My Mojo Working," and "Louise," with John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" as well. Though more basic and tentative and than the late-'60s recordings for which they're well known, these are pretty brisk, concise performances that mark Canned Heat as one of the few enduring white American blues-rock bands of the era. Indeed, this lacks the jam-prone bombast that afflicted many of their famous releases, and even those who dismiss their familiar stuff for that reason might find themselves enjoying this. One of the two group originals, "Straight Head," sounds like they might have been trying, if just slightly, to aim a little closer to the pop market in the manner of some of the tracks recorded around the same time by the Rising Sons (the L.A. folk-rock/blues group with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder). It's only 24 minutes long, and one song, "Rollin' and Tumblin'," is presented twice (once with harmonica, once without), but it's a worthy archival collection.
Don't Forget to Boogie: Vintage Heat Review
by Richie Unterberger