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The Very Best of Canned Heat album is a Rocking and Bluesy Trip

Updated on June 17, 2019
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I am no musician, but I know what I like, and the music I review will be songs that deserve to be played forever.

In the 1960’s you never know what you might hear on the radio it had diversity that is for sure. You could hear Dionne Warrick, Neil Diamond, The Beatles, even Tammy Wynette. One day I heard the song “Goin’ Up the Country” and my ears perked up. What kind of song was this? A guy who sounded a little like Kermit the Frog and a flute that started up a joyous song made for summer travels up the road or perhaps wishful thinking.

I didn’t think anymore about it till recently when I decided to buy the cd of Canned Heat’s greatest hits and this is pure joy to listen to. If you are into slow songs and love songs, this album isn’t for you, but if you like songs that will have your foot tapping, and singing along this will the cd for you.

Bob “The Bear” Hite- vocals, harmonica, guitar (1965-1981) he died in 1981

Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson- guitar, harmonica, vocals (1965-1970) died in 1981

Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine - guitar (1965-1974, 1980-1981, 1985-1988, 1992-1997) died in 1997

Larry “The Mole” Taylor- bass, guitar, vocals (1967-1970, 1978-1980, 1987, 1992, 1996-1997, 2010 present

Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra-drums, vocals (1967-present)

How did Canned Heat get their name?

Canned Heat formed in 1965 in Los Angeles. They decided on the name Canned Heat from the blues singer Tommy Johnson who had a song called “Canned Heat Blues” released in 1928. The song is about an alcoholic who was so desperate for alcohol he would drink the product Sterno which was called canned heat. That is desperate, but a great original name for a band.

"On The Road Again"

The song begins with an almost Indian sound and then starts with prominent harmonica and it is really sent over the top by the vocals of Alan Wilson. He started singing in falsetto to imitate a blues singer by the name of Skip James. Alan’s singing gave Canned Heat instant recognition. It is a song that combines the blues, rock and psychedelic rock all together into a smooth grooving song. This song will help you when you need to keep pushing to get a chore done, or if you want to cruise down the road the song is perfection.

The lyrics repeat in the verse, but somehow it is comforting and helps the singer take away his anxiety.

Well, I'm so tired of crying
But I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again
Well, I'm so tired of crying
But I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again
I ain't got no woman
Just to call my special friend

This is the break out song for the band. It was released in November of 1968 from their third album Living The Blues. It reached number 11 on the charts their highest rating. It is considered an unofficial anthem for Woodstock. A hippie anthem as it were.

These are the lyrics that sweep the listener up to a great journey.

m goin' up the country, baby don't you want to go?
I'm goin' up the country, baby don't you want to go?
I'm goin' to some place, I've never been before
I'm goin' I'm goin' where the water tastes like wine
I'm goin' where the water tastes like wine
We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time
I'm gonna leave this city, got to get away
I'm gonna leave this city, got to get away
All this fussin' and fightin' man, you know I sure can't stay
So baby pack your leavin' trunk
You know we've got to leave today
Just exactly where we're goin' I cannot say
But we might even leave the U.S.A.
It's a brand new game, that I want to play

A flute begins the song which immediately perks up the ear of the listener. To hear this sound on a rock album seems strange, but it works so well in this song. It creates that mellow vibe, the drums kick in and we get Alan singing in that high voice of his, and we want to take that trip with him. It is a song of getting away from it all and just hanging out and enjoying whoever you might be travelling with. The song shows that people still have that urge to get away from things once in awhile no matter what era we are in. This song will help you get away if only in your mind with this great song.

“Bullfrog Blues” is an in your face song. It starts off with a talking electric guitar and a drumming beat that goes note for note with the guitar. The vocals are strong, and the lyrics are certainly different.

Well, did you ever wake up
With them bullfrogs on your mind?
Well, did you ever wake up
With them bullfrogs on your mind?

You had to sit there laughin'
Laughin' just to keep from crying

Well, did you ever wake up
With that one woman on your mind
Well, did you ever wake up
With that one woman on your mind

This is a blues song and the only cure is to get some rhythm and blues and the way this song is going the singer will be cured soon. This is blues at its finest.


“Henry’s Shuffle”

This song would likely be played when the band need a break from their vocals and they just wanted to jam. This song is all Henry Vistine he plays the guitar hard and the other band mates respond in kind leading to a blues song with a twist of rock.

"Same All Over"

Any song that starts off with a rollicking piano has my attention. This has that blues piano sound that one wishes they had the talent to play. Alan Hite lends his vocals he has a strong voice and he sings the song with vigor. This song comes from Canned Heat’s fourth album released in July 1969 entitled Hallelujah.

In the lyrics the main verses are:

It’s the same all over

It’s the same all over

Good people everywhere you go

There is a something comforting in those words. It is almost like a look at the group during their concert tour days where there was always someone there for them no matter what country or state, they were in. The song has a happy sound to it, and the song is joyous from start to finish.

“Time Was”

Hallelujah produced this great song also. The song was written by Alan Wilson and he sang the vocals.

The lyrics of this song are simple, but worth remembering. The singer has had a breakup with his love, and he knows it is over. Instead of going crazy he vows to just go on with his life.

Time was... when we got along
Time was... when we got along
It's too bad, that the feeling's gone

Time was... when we could agree
Time was... when we could agree
That time's gone, now you find fault with me

I've got time, things will work out fine
Trouble... will not wreck my life
Trouble... will not wreck my life
Someday you'll like, what I'm putting down

This song jams all the way through and Alan sings in a nonchalant manner. The first line of the last verse states: I’ve got time, things will work out fine. He makes us believe it.

“Poor Moon”

Alan Wilson was a nature lover. He loved to spend times outside picking leaves and looking at the sky. He was worried about pollution, and in this song, he is worried about the moon. He feels pollution is going to ruin the world and he hopes it won’t but can’t help but think about it. It is a song that has a happy sound even though the song’s lyrics are expressing anxiety.

Ever since I was a kid,
You sure looked good to me.
Now I'm a man full-grown, and I
Know what I hate to see.
(Oh well.)
It might be tomorrow.
(Oh well.)
I just don't know.
(Oh well.)
It might take years.
I wonder when they're going to
Destroy your face?

Alan’s voice makes you listen, and the band follows along.

“Long Way From LA”

There is something about road songs that you can identify with even if you never were in a band. This song is one of them. You start off like Willie Nelson on the road again and can’t wait to get back on the road again, but by the time the tour is almost over you want to go home.

This song explains those feelings in a rollicking blues way up tempo even though the mood in the lyrics are a bit down.

I've been on the road it seems just like forever,
We finish one gig and then we pack up to another,
I'd give anything to be back home,
But a music man ain't nothin' but a rolling stone,
I'm on the road again today, I'm a long way from L.A.,
I'm a long way from L.A., I'm a long way from L.A.

The songs lyrics end in a way where you can visualize the singer listening to the radio or watching tv and wishing he could go home yet singing the words of a jingle that is classic.

Gotta get back to my, Gotta get back to my,
Gotta get back to my, I gotta get outta here man,
Man this woman's killin' me, mmm mmm mmm, my my my,
Things go better with Coca Cola,
Things go better with Coke.

Canned Heat turned a love of the blues into a sound that fit their style. They introduced the world to the genre of the blues Recreating the blues to blend with rock created a sound that will live on for the listener. They were and are more than a hippie band, they are band of blues and rock journeyman that took the listener on a great trip.

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