Canned Heat

Greatest Hits Live

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Greatest Hits Live Review

by Lindsay Planer

This is one of the only titles, if not the only title, with this particular reincarnation of the traditional blues-influenced rockers Canned Heat. The Heat are primarily remembered for having been at both the Monterey International Pop Music Festival (June 1967) as well as the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair (August 1969). In much the same fashion as the great bluesmen of the early 20th century, Canned Heat never garnered the commercial success that was worthy of their authentic blending of electric rock & roll with R&B. The set captured on this edition of King Biscuit Flower Hour's Greatest Hits Live series of archival releases is taken from the Heat's appearance at a tenth anniversary celebration of Woodstock held on September 7, 1979, in Brookhaven, NY. The personnel incorporated Larry Taylor (bass/vocals), Bob "The Bear" Hite (harmonica/vocals), and Adolfo "Fito" de la Parra (drums), as well as new recruits Mike "Hollywood Fats" Mann (guitar) and Jay Spell (piano). The set list consists of a few familiar performances with competent, if not at times inspired, readings of their best-known cuts, such as the rollicking workout they give to the fan favorites "On the Road Again" and the rural roots anthem "Goin' Up the Country." Both are given an enthusiastic response from the gathered masses. They also serve up a few standard repertoire covers. Among them are William Harris' "Bullfrog Blues," which first appeared on the combo's debut, Canned Heat (1967), and the bayou soul of Amos Milburn's "Chicken Shack Boogie." Although substance abuse had and would plague them, they continued making LPs throughout the 1970s. This show has an extended ten-plus minute reading of the title track to their Human Condition (1978) LP, their final effort with Hite, who passed in 1981 of a heart seizure. They wrap things up with a powerful "Shake 'n Boogie," restoring much of the frenetic playing that became synonymous with the combo's original incarnation. While Greatest Hits Live offers a little something for everyone, purists and hardcore enthusiasts should likewise venture to the platters Live at the Topanga Corral (1970) or Canned Heat Concert (Recorded Live in Europe) (1971).

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