1967-1976: The Boogie House Tapes

Canned Heat

Ruf Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Anyone who experienced either Woodstock or the blues revival of the '60s must know Canned Heat. Whether it was the mountainous stage presence of vocalist Bob "Bear" Hite, their collaboration with John Lee Hooker ( Hooker 'N Heat), their unique spin on 12-bar blues or their two hits "Going Up The Country" and "On The Road Again," Canned Heat has sadly been overlooked by today's music scene. (Never mind the fact that the band is still slugging it out, despite losing several members, including Hite, to the Grim Reaper.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Boogie House Tapes, a collection of studio and live material from Canned Heat circa 1967 to 1976, is a nice selection that show the listener just how influential this group was at their time... but it also proves to be too much of a good thing.

In all honesty, this two-disc collection could have been pared down to a single disc, and it would have been perfect. Admittedly, the live versions of "Going Up The Country" and "On The Road Again" pale in comparison to their studio brethren, but I'm willing to grant them some slack just because fans of the band have reached a comfort level with these two songs. The rest of the first disc, however, just smokes.

What might sound like tossed-off numbers such as "Reefer Blues," "Harley Davidson Blues" and "Chicago Bound" (which features Magic Dick from J. Geils Band on harmonica) actually seem to capture the spirit of this band the best - namely, a group who took their blues seriously but also knew how to have fun. This is also reflected in "These boots are made for..." (a studio outtake which almost becomes a running gag in just over a minute) and "Caterpillar Crawl".

The only criticism of this first disc? I'd have moved "Good Bye For Now" to the end of the disc; it's a bit awkward sticking it smack dab in the middle.

The second half of The Boogie House Tapes, in contrast, seems to drag on endlessly, becoming lost amid bass guitar solos and blues jams that just seem to go nowhere fast. Even the selection featuring Hite talking to the audience is an awkward moment. Yet, there are times on cuts like "Shaken Boogie," "Sore Back Blues" and a cover of Willie Dixon's "Bring It On Home" that there are glimpses of the magic that are so prevalent on the first disc.

Admittedly, this collection is one for the diehard Canned Heat fan - though I could see the first disc attracting a lot of new interest from the younger generation. As a whole, The Boogie House Tapes has more moments of wonder than woe... but it also shows that not everything in the vaults needs to be released.

Rating: B-

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ruf Records, and is used for informational purposes only.