Carnegie Hall 1971

Canned Heat With John Lee Hooker

Cleopatra Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


My enduring memory of Canned Heat is not visual; it’s the band providing the opening theme song to the original Woodstock movie.

Canned Heat was formed during the mid-1960s and after performances at the Monterey Pop Festival, they became one of the top concert attractions in the world during the first half of the 1970s. During 1970, they went into the studio and recorded an album with John Lee Hooker titled my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hooker ‘N Heat. Shortly thereafter, founding member and lead guitarist Alan Wilson died at the age of 27.

On April 15, 1971, about six months after Wilson’s death, the band and John Lee Hooker performed at Carnegie Hall, which is not exactly a venue known for the blues. That concert, Carnegie Hall 1971, has now been released as the first in a three part series of live Canned Heat releases, which include Stockholm 1971 and Illinois Blues 1973.

First the bad news: the concert is not complete. For some reason, the tape did not run throughout the entire performance, so what was recorded is what you get. Particularly missed is the opening John Lee Hooker set. Now for the really bad news: the sound borders on the terrible. There are places where it really detracts from the music.

The good news is what is there are some of the finest examples of early 1970s electric blues that you will find. The 19-minute “Shake ‘N’ Boogie” is a jam fest delight. The improvisation of the band goes on and on and on, proving that the Grateful Dead were not the only improvisational band of the era.

“Back Door Man” has deep rhythms, while “Tease Me Baby” has Hooker out front. Fold in “Framed,” “Let’s Work Together,” and “Hey Babe” and you have just about an hour of excellent rock/blues. Meanwhile, the liner notes within trace the history of the band and their relationship with Hooker.

Despite the above-mentioned negatives, Carnegie Hall 1973 is a worthwhile addition to any blues collection.

Rating: B-

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© 2015 David Bowling 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 Cleopatra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.