Title - 'Live at Montreux - 1973' (Eagle Records)
Artist - Canned Heat
Emerging in 1966, Canned Heat was founded by blues historians - Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, who took the name from Tommy Johnson's 1928 Canned Heat Blues - and at the end of the 1960s had acquired worldwide fame with a line-up consisting of Hite on vocals, "Blind Owl" Wilson on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Henry Vestine (or Harvey Mandel) on lead guitar, Larry Taylor on bass, and Adolfo "Fito" de la Parra on drums.
'On the Road Again,' a song first released as a single back in April 1968, is the way the American blues rock group open this live set, before flowing into the nine minute slow-blues stroll of 'Please Mr. Nixon.' A song, as are some others on here, enhanced by the enormous harmonia playing of Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, and the sax playing of the late, great Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown.
This magical set at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival continues with a once-original bluebird release circa 1941, Big Maceo's smooth 'Worried Life Blues.' Next up is the eight minute 'About My Ooh Poo Pa Doo,' which features Brown once more. A cover of Jessie Hill's New Orleans Church-like classic, when it eventually moves, it moves at a brisk pace for sure and also features an incredible "palmed guitar solo" that you have to hear to believe!!
Although entitled 'Funky,' the song is anything but! Creeping out and about for seven minutes, it is followed by a cover of the more upbeat Ray Charles track, 'Night Time Is The Right Time.' The blues/boogie rock continues with 'Let's Work Together,' a song that turned out to be the bands only Top 10 hit to feature the vocals of Bob "The Bear" Hite.
Hearing Bob Hite sing is the epitome of Canned Heat, but I was blown away by the soulfulness of the guitar player's two stints singing lead vocals. The fact that in 1981, having collapsed from a heroin overdose during a show at the Palomino in Los Angeles, Hite was later found dead in Fito de la Parra's Mar Vista home at the age of 38 is one of the biggest heartaches that the music scene has ever paid witness to.
The album is brought to a close with the short (under three minutes!) piano-intro'd 'Rock And Roll Music,' before The Kings Of The Boogie bring us both the paino-fused 'Lookin' For My Rainbow' and a near-fifteen minute version of 'Shake 'N' Boogie'!