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The Very Best of Canned Heat Live

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Album Review

Released in 1973, The Very Best of Canned Heat was the most convenient way for many to gather the combo's signature songs and primary album cuts circa the mid- to late '70s. This record was one in a series of budget-line "Very Best Of" compilations from United Artists, and the thumbnail collection reflected in the tune stack. The ten tracks contained on this single LP are derived from the seminal entries Canned Heat (1967), Boogie With Canned Heat (1968), Living the Blues (1968), and Hallelujah (1969). This list could arguably be extended with Canned Heat Cookbook (1969), a hits package released to offer product in the wake of their association with the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. In all fairness, it was the first long-player to have "Going Up the Country," which had been on 1970's Woodstock soundtrack and was otherwise only available on a 45-rpm release. Canned Heat were formed by hardcore, if not studious, fans of blues and seminal R&B. The original personnel featured Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/vocals), Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass), Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar), and Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals). During the era covered by this platter, the band had a pair of drummers. First there was Frank Cook, who remained long enough to contribute to their aforementioned self-titled debut. In the summer/fall of 1967, Cook was replaced by Aldolfo "Fido" de la Parra in time to play on Boogie With Canned Heat. Among the inclusions of note are the covers of Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and the funky update of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together." Their bright overhaul of William Harris' "Bullfrog Blues" — one of their earliest singles — also became an enthusiast favorite and is tucked in among better-known pieces such as "On the Road Again" and "Amphetamine Annie." Time constraints inherent in the 12" LP resulted in the extended "Fried Hockey Boogie" and "Parthenogenesis" being conspicuously absent. As this specific pressing is no longer available, interested parties should refer to 1990's Best of Canned Heat [EMI], 1999's Best of Canned Heat [Disky], or 1994's two-disc Uncanned! The Best of Canned Heat for similar, albeit significantly expanded, anthologies.

Biography

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...
Full bio

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