(Springboard, USA)


     Canned Heat are hands down the best back-up band John Lee Hooker has recorded with since those hot shot country groups that blazed anonymously through the studios in the early Fifties. And despite the cover billing, they are very much a back-up group, for this is really a John Lee Hooker album, and one of his best in a long while.
     Much of the credit goes to the Heat's planning and programming. They have caught Hooker in a variety of settings: soloist in his own characteristic idiom; playing a fantastic series of duets with the late Al Wilson; and fronting the entire band (minus Hite, who worked on the project, and spread his infectious good humor, from the control booth) for some righteous, raunchy boogie. Canned Heat have made no secret of the fact that their entire boogie series, spread over some three albums, draws its inspiration from Hooker's work, so the combination is a natural. The second album in this two-record set is given over to band numbers, and it's the best of the two.
     Wilson's presence doesn't need to be overadvertised; he is very strong throughout, mostly in a very subtle way. Hooker has noted his admiration for Wilson several times, and their generation-spanning empathy is very evident here, especially on side two, which is given over mostly to Hooker with Wilson's harp and piano. Hooker remarks. "I don't know how that boy keeps up with me." It's no easy trick, keeping up with John Lee, but that's just what Alan does, laying down some amazing playing, especially on harp, in the process.
     Vestine, who had recently rejoined the band when these sides were cut, is also very strong, even though he like Wilson is subservient to Hooker's thing. Henry once told an interviewer his greatest ambition was to record with John Lee Hooker and with Albert Ayler. With the release of Ayler's Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe, and Hooker 'N Heat, Henry has fulfilled his ambitions at a very young age; there's no place for him to go but up.
     Mention should be made of the earth-moving power of Antonio de la Barreda and Adolfo de la Parra. the Heat's south-of-the-border rhythm section, and of the engineering, which may still be a little too clean for Hooker, but then, nobody records in barns anymore. Hooker fans are going to dig this record, and so are Heat fans, and that includes a lot of people. Let 'em boogie! (RS 81)

Bob Palmer - © Copyright 2000 Rolling Stone.com


     Here we have what has been a mainstay of my collection and has not withered with the last three decades. In 1970 the legendary John Lee Hooker teamed up with the infamous ex-Woodstock boogie band that he was the inspiration for, Canned Heat, to record an essential double live-in-the-studio album for us to enjoy and believe me, it stands up to repeated listening for several reasons which I will offer below.
     It was becoming sort of a common practice during the late '60's and early '70's for the elder Blues statesmen to record LP's with the younger rock stars whom they were in a large part responsible for and who were in awe of them with some expectedly various results. With the exception of "The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions", most were found to be lacking due to fact that so little common ground was actually shared by the unusual pairings. Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter would be the other combination that I can think of that really made the most of the Blues explosion and they gave us 4 amazing LP's before Muddy's death.
     Hooker'N'Heat was another rare notable exception to this rule. The team of Hooker and Canned Heat frequently played gigs together live and recorded together during what was a brief yeomanship for the boogie band. We get the best of both worlds on this release as well since the first CD is mostly Hooker playing and stomping out his mean and hypnotic solo style that got this all started in the first place. Canned Heat shines on the second CD and they do an admirable job of hanging in there with the King of Boogie.
     This material has been in my collection ever since I began to become interested in more than just the usual music that was doled out on the radio back in the day and has been cememted in some form to whatever format of music playback device I owned since I saw Canned Heat when they played in Trumann, Arkansas in the early '80's. Ok, so I admit that there is a bit of an emotional attachment to this one.

Leon McEntire - Delta Pickin's / June 16, 2000
Delta Boogie © Copyright 1997 by Larry Heyl and Vivian Heyl
(Source: http://www.deltaboogie.com/leon/index.htm)