I’m very pleased to publish three interrelated articles about Canned Heat, a blues band with a roster of incredible talent, and deep and significant roots in the rediscovery of the blues in the early ‘60s: a band that played the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock and is still “on the road” after 50 years. So much of what the band did in the late ‘60s is now taken for granted: driving rock boogie, the mix of country or rural blues with rock, a serious effort to preserve the elements of long forgotten blues motifs (including many eclectic and more obscure blues styles that were not represented by the Chicago electric blues or the blues revival taking place in the UK) while making them relevant to new audiences; and generally, playing at a level of musicianship that few “rock bands” could ever hope to achieve.
If you haven’t listened to their music in a few decades, or never really heard them, you are in for a treat.
The articles break down into:
- an overview of the band and reviews of four “essential” albums on Liberty Records.
What really brings this whole thing alive is:
- an in-depth interview with Skip Taylor, who has managed the band from the early days; Skip first heard them, as he will tell you, when he was invited to hear two up-and-coming bands: The Doors and Canned Heat. At a frat party!
Skip tells the tale much better than me, and gives you a real sense of what the band is all about. (We completed his interview a couple days after he got back from a road tour with the band, which is still working and playing better than ever).
Finally, I have included a:
- “SIDEBAR: Rediscovering the Blues.” The members of Canned Heat were earnest blues scholars, record collectors and, along with others, directly involved in helping to find, and to bring out of oblivion, and nurture some of the legendary bluesmen whose names have achieved a mythic status, including: Son House, who taught and influenced Robert Johnson, as well as Skip James, whose haunting falsetto and strange tunings created some of the eeriest blues ever recorded.
I hope you are as taken with Canned Heat after reading and listening as I have become in the process of revisiting their albums and writing about them. This project has been hugely rewarding for me on a personal level.
Sept. 28, 2015