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The Boogie House Tapes, Vol. 3 (Live)

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Album Review

Let the barrel scraping continue. Vol. 3 of these Canned Heat rarities is the (promised) final edition of the set, all issued through Ruf, that started with Vol. 1 in 2000 and wrapped up in 2008. As can be expected at this point, the pickings are increasingly slim, and since the band hasn't gained much traction throughout the years, it's unclear how many will respond to more dodgy audio quality live jams, even those featuring the great Alan Wilson. The non-chronologically sequenced songs range from a surprisingly well-recorded "World in a Jug" from 1967 (with Sunnyland Slim on piano) to 1978. The haphazard graphics, packaging, and skimpy liner notes are awful, especially for a historical project of this nature. Bandmembers are listed only by their first names, with no key to reference who is who. Considering the effort it must have taken to unearth this music, the lack of background information on the source of each track, other than the location and date of its recording, is a maddening omission. Some tunes, such as "Project Blues," are jams that fade in while already in progress, only to fade out mid-solo. The one constant among the revolving-door musicians is lead singer Bob "The Bear" Hite, who handles lead vocals on virtually every song. Certainly the first disc, which features original guitarist Henry Vestine and founding member Alan Wilson on all of its dozen selections, is of the most interest. The latter blows wild harmonica on an eight-minute rave-up called "I'm Your Man" and kicks off the set with a brief minute-and-a-half Delta-style solo from the Woodstock set, which then frustratingly trickles away as the song begins. While the performances are uniformly energetic and spirited, the recording quality shifts from decent to less so, especially on disc one. That is not noted anywhere on the package, so buyer beware. Still, for Wilson and Vestine fans, these recordings show both musicians in fine form, especially on a nine-minute "So Sad" from the Future Blues album. Disc two is more of the same, only without Wilson, who passed in 1970. Included are guest appearances from Curtis Mayfield, who adds some vocals on a very loose outtake from Heat's Midnight Special appearance, and James Harman blowing harp on a ragged recording of another improv session titled "Feel Allright" (sic). The closing two tunes document Canned Heat's 1971 Carnegie Hall date with their mentor, John Lee Hooker. Despite sound quality just above the bootleg level, these two tracks are worthy documents of a legendary show and a fitting end to a project made for hardcore Heat heads only.


Formed: 1966 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A hard-luck blues band of the '60s, Canned Heat was founded by blues historians and record collectors Alan Wilson and Bob Hite. They seemed to be on the right track and played all the right festivals (including Monterey and Woodstock, making it very prominently into the documentaries about both) but somehow never found a lasting audience. Certainly their hearts were in the right place. Canned Heat's debut album -- released shortly after their appearance at Monterey -- was every bit as deep into...
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