This aggregate covers a wide spectrum of seminal material from Canned Heat. While parties seeking a straightforward nothin'-but-the-hits collection are best served by any of the Best of Canned Heat titles, the 12 tracks here consist of a smattering of well-known cuts along with highlights from both Live at the Topanga Corral(1971) [aka Live at the Kaleidoscope 1969 (2000)] and Vintage (1969). Although the band had several different drummers between 1966 and 1968, the core personnel boasts Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals), Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/harmonica/vocals), Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar), and Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass). Chronologically, "Big Road Blues," "Rollin' & Tumblin'," "Got My Mojo Working," "Dimples," "Spoonful," and "Pretty Thing" have been culled from a 1966 session with R&B legend Johnny Otis at the helm. After they became famous, the sides were issued by the Janus label as the aforementioned Vintage. For authentic R&B fans, these may prove to be the most inspired on this disc. There is a raw freshness in Canned Heat's electric renderings, which is not surprising as Hite, Wilson, and Vestine were nothing short of amateur blues scholars and self-proclaimed musicologists. "Wish You Would," "Dust My Broom," "Sweet Sixteen," and "Bullfrog Blues" were recorded by the band at a Los Angeles psychedelic dungeon called the Kaleidoscope in mid- to late 1968. These same tapes have been touted under several different monikers over the years, as well. This batch provides a suitable contrast with lengthier and more thoroughly developed instrumental interaction between Wilson, Vestine, and Taylor -- especially the syncopated rowdiness of Billy Boy Arnold's "Wish You Would." "On the Road Again" is the single version circa Boogie With Canned Heat (1968) and "Same All Over" from the album Hallelujah (1969). Again, this anthology may not be for everyone; however, enthusiasts can be assured of a quality investment.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer