Boogie 2000

Canned Heat

RUF Records / Platinum Entertainment, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If you're either a diehard classic rock fan or you're someone who grew up at the time of the original Woodstock, Canned Heat will be a name that you'll probably remember. Led by Bob "Bear" Hite - a man with a gigantic size and just as powerful of a voice - and Alan Wilson, whose high-pitched vocals made the two big hits so memorable, Canned Heat gained fame with songs like "Goin' Up The Country" and the Middle Eastern-tinged "On The Road Again". They also cemented their mark in history as a blues band with their collaboration with John Lee Hooker, Hooker 'n' Heat.

But history hasn't been kind to Canned Heat. Wilson died under suspicious circumstances in 1970; Hite succumbed to a heart attack in 1981, and lead guitarist Henry Vestine died in 1997, just after the completion of a tour. If all the tragedy wasn't enough to bear, most people have made Canned Heat one of the most forgotten bands of the Woodstock era. (I'd put Quill above them in the list - and, prior to VH1's movie, Sweetwater would be at the top of the list as well.)

Yet there are still some people like myself who long for the glory days of this band, and continually hope that the group can reclaim some stake in their past and remind people how important they were at the time. Their latest effort, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Boogie 2000, tries to do this, but falters in the end, most notably because they keep singing about the end of the century and millenium. (Anyone ever think that everything Y2K-related will be relegated to the storage shelves in February, right up there with Tickle Me Elmo and the old, dusty Nintendo systems?)

The band has been fronted since 1995 by Robert Lucas, who provides vocals, harmonica and slide guitar to the mix. Original members Adolfo "Fito" De La Parra (drums) and Larry "The Mole" Taylor (lead & rhythm guitars, vocals) keep the flame of the band's core alive, along with producer Skip Taylor. But if you pick this disc up expecting to hear "Goin' Up The Country" redux, you're in for a major disappointment - so much so that I actually put this disc aside for about a month to let the memories of the old band rest and to hear it with fresh ears.

It seemed to help a bit; songs like "Wait And See" (complete with a flute intro that is guaranteed to make you think of Canned Heat's glory days) and "Last Man" are able to stand on their own merits without invoking the ghosts of the past too often. "Last Man" is the superior track, showing that the love of the blues that has been the center of this band for over three decades is alive and well. Other tracks like "Searchin' For My Baby" and "I'm So Tired" help to fuel the fire.

But there are too many cliches on Boogie 2000 - and some of them, as mentioned before, center around the upcoming milennium. (Not for me, chum - I subscribe to the 1/1/2001 theory.) I mean, how serious are we supposed to take a track named "2000 Reasons (Y2K Blues)"? Actual line from the song: "What if it gets really bad, like they say it will / Hope you've got extra water, and yout stomach is filled." Give me a fuckin' break.

Other songs, like "I Got Loaded," "She Split" and "Too Much Giddyup," just don't seem to be able to recapture the power and the glory that I know this band is capable of, and settles into the vein of atypical blues-rock that doesn't aspire to do anything more than fill the CD. Too bad.

It's not that Boogie 2000 is a bad disc; if anything, once you break free from the idea that this is going to have the same groove as the days of Hite and Wilson, some of the songs show themselves to be quite worthy of the label Canned Heat. But the bulk of the disc is like lighting one of those little cans you get with catered dishes - it takes far too long for the heat to really build up.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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 / Platinum Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.