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Canned Heat with John Lee Hooker: Carnegie Hall 1971

American behemoths captured at their towering live best.

“Me and big Bob Hite gonna do the boogie! Do you wanna do the boogie?” When the creator of the boogie calls, there is only one response…

Canned Heat – a bunch of filthy, druggie Californians – and the sharp-dressed John Lee Hooker may have been aesthetically ill-suited, but musically they were dynamite together. Bob ‘The Bear’ Hite and Alan ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson were blues devotees who travelled the US in search of source musicians. They recognised Hooker at an airport and persuaded him to cut 1970’s Hooker ‘N Heat, which tragically turned out to be Wilson’s epitaph./o:p

By 1971 the group were reeling from the loss of Wilson, their guitarist and harp ace, in circumstances which have never been fully explained. So each party brought their own hoodoo to this concert – and the effect is some of the most potent, mesmerising blues you’ll hear./o:p

Not that they sound anything like a band in mourning, as the first two rambunctious tracks will testify. The atmosphere shifts and deepens when Hooker arrives for Hey Babe, a menacing, sparse slow-burner, his shamanic growl sending tremors down the backbone./o:p

On Shake N’ Boogie, the band obey the command to go higher and higher, powered by tough riffing from replacement guitarist Joel Scott Hill, and followed with a suitably predatory Back Door Man.

Inexplicably, none of Hooker’s solo set was recorded. What remains is white-hot electric blues conducted from the primeval source./o:p