A couple of summers ago, when “Blind Owl” Wilson overdosed; well, it looked like curtains for Canned Heat. The band added Harvey Mandel as lead guitarist and dropped a live album onto the market. After that LP whisked into oblivion, so did Canned Heat.
But wait, just released is Historical Figures and Ancient Heads complete with new member Joel Scott Hill at vocals and guitars, Harvey Mandel, who since left the band, is back for guitar work, and Little Richard himself.
What’s a critic to do? The band has retired the “boogie” theme for a more ballsy rock ‘n blues format. Gone are Bob “The Bear” Hite’s embarrassing growls. Gone are the inane lyrics. In their place stand a new band gleaming and ready to be accepted.
Side One is the stomping side – sizzling with good new rock ‘n roll. The side is, I might add, completely swiped by Little Richard on “Rockin’ with the King” where the Georgia Peach plays honky-tonk piano and shares the arrogant lyrics with Hite. I guess that’s the way it should be, but “Long Way From L.A.” gives it a good run-for-the-money which epitomizes all the “gotta-get-my-ass-back-home” theme songs.
Well, if you’re gonna change the tune of a band, you might as well go all out. The group has added a Mexican rhythm section with Adolfo de la Parra and Antonio del la Barreda on drums and bass respectively. The two jam away, weaving in and out between all the verses with their tasty subdued Latin-flavored style.
Side Two is the setting for the extended jam tunes “That’s All Right” and “Utah,” the former being Harvey Mandel’s homecoming cut. These two tracks seem to best describe the new and refreshed state of the band. They have not lost their snotty sense of raw humor, or their snotty sense of raw instrumentation. For once, I feel the group has tried their utmost to produce a great album… and succeeded.
by Cameron Crowe – Courtesy of the Door (aka San Diego Door) March 30, 1972 – April 13, 1972
1. Sneakin' Around (Jessie Mae Robinson) - 4:53
2. Hill's Stomp (Joel Scott Hill) - 3:03
3. Rockin' With The King (Skip Taylor, Richard Wayne Penniman) - 3:17
4. I Don't Care What You Tell Me (Charles Lloyd) - 3:58
5. Long Way From L.A. (Jud Baker) - 3:05
6. Cherokee Dance (Robert Landers) - 4:25
7. That's All Right (Jimmy Rogers) - 5:30
8. Utah (Canned Heat) - 8:25
9. Long Way From L.A. (Single Version) (Jud Baker) - 2:53
*Bob Hite - Vocals
*Henry Vestine - Lead Guitar
*Joel Scott Hill - Rhythm, Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Adolfo De La Parra - Drums, Piano
*Antonio De La Barreda - Bass
*Little Richard - Piano, Vocals
*Clifford Solomon - Saxophone
*Charles Lloyd - Flute
*Harvey Mandel - Guitar
*Ernest Lane - Piano
*Kevin Burton - Organ
*Ray Bushbaum - Piano
1967-73 Canned Heat - The Very Best Of
1968 Canned Heat - Livin The Blues (Akarma edition)
1971 John Lee Hooker And Canned Heat - Hooker 'N' Heat
1970-73 Memphis Slim Canned Heat Memphis Horns - Memphis Heat
1973 Canned Heat - One More River To Cross