Friday, March 23, 2012

Canned Heat--Sandy's Blues

About twenty years ago I was visiting my brother in L.A.  While he was off to his classes at UCLA, I roamed around The Valley and stopped in a Tower Records store.  I perused the racks and found this Canned Heat CD called "Livin' The Blues."  I had an old scratched up LP version, so I decided to trade it in for the newer digital model.

That weekend my brother and I went out to a bar and, low and behold, if I didn't sit down right next to Larry Taylor, the bass player for Canned Heat.  So here I was sitting next to this guy who had played at the Monterey Pop Festival and who played at Woodstock.  I was awed by the whole scene.

I bought him and his girlfriend a beer and I asked him about this "Livin' The Blues" album.  He just kind of scoffed and said something to make me think he was actually ashamed of that LP.  I said, "No way" and I assured him that it was just fine.

In retrospect I have deduced the reason why he was ashamed of it.  When this album was recorded is was in the middle of the psychedelic 60's.  Every rock band with a tie-dye had at least one "hallucinogenic" song and Canned Heat was no exception.  On this album is an elongated, art noise sort of thing called "Parthenogenesis."  It's pretty bad.

However, the rest of the CD is pretty awesome.  So much so, that I am recommending the whole CD.  There is a great tune with Alan Wilson blowing the harp in a cover of "Walkin' By Myself."  Also on this album is a really awesome slow blues number called "Sandy's Blues."  Bob Hite is one of the best lead singers and front men ever.

Despite the theme of my blog being upbeat blues music, I am compelled to recommend this slow tune.  I hope you enjoy it.

Like I said, I recommend this whole CD.  CD #2 of the set is an infamous Canned Heat boogie that goes on for about a half-hour.  There are some good moments in that jam too.  I suppose I should also note that this particular CD has Canned Heat's biggest hit ever, "Goin' Up The Country."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for featuring Canned Heat on your blog! How exciting that you got to meet Larry "The Mole" Taylor. He's certainly one of the greatest bassists in rock or blues.

    However, I hope you'll reconsider your dismissal of "Parthenogenesis". One thing to remember is that the suite was not really conceived as one piece. Several of the song segments were independently conceived and executed; specifically I'm thinking of Alan Wilson's harmonica raga, "Raga Kafi", and the jaw harp ragas "Rollin' and Tumblin'", "Nebulosity", and "Childhood's End". These were previously recorded by Wilson, in the studio for John Fahey during a time when he had been considering making a solo album for Takoma Records. These are all legitimate ragas and not merely acid-induced weirdness as casual listeners often think. "Five Owls" is also a great harmonica showcase for Wilson.

    If you'd like more information on Wilson and the classic-era Canned Heat, I hope you'll check out my Wilson biography at It covers his early encounters with Delta bluesman Son House, his career with Canned Heat, his work as a pioneering ecologist, and his mysterious death at the age of 27.

    Thanks again for including Canned Heat on your blog, and as they always said, don't forget to boogie!