Songs from the Road Canned Heat RUF

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Steve Creedy

It wouldn’t be a Canned Heat con­cert with­out the band’s big­gest hits but it’s likely more than one per­son through the years who has cursed Alan Wil­son for singing On the Road Again and Go­ing Up the Coun­try in coun­tertenor. Cer­tainly it’s a strug­gle for the ver­sion of Canned Heat that took to the road for the band’s 50th an­niver­sary tour. Both songs fea­ture valiant but mar­ginal at­tempts to em­u­late Wil­son (who was him­self em­u­lat­ing Skip James). For­tu­nately the lower register vo­cals are fine and there’s no doubt these guys can still boo­gie and elec­trify au­di­ences af­ter a half-cen­tury. They waste no time con­firm­ing this as they move from the blues-rock clas­sic Time Was to the in­fec­tious shuf­fle of Don’t Know Where She Went (She Split). Canned Heat is a coun­try blues leg­end and this con­cert is evoca­tive of its well-earned place in the pan­theon of 1960s greats while show­cas­ing the skills gar­nered across a life­time. There are two mem­bers of the “clas­sic” line-up: drum­mer Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra and bassist Larry “the Mole’’ Tay­lor. Har­vey “the Snake’’ Man­del’s du­ties are ably per­formed by more re­cent mem­ber gui­tarist/bassist John Paulus and Dave Spald­ing adds his great harp work, par­tic­u­larly on tracks such as the swing­ing in­stru­men­tal Nighthawk and the im­pres­sive Oax­aca. The band gets into the groove with clas­sics such as Am­phet­a­mine An­nie and Let’s Work To­gether, while the slow jazz-blues of Christo Re­den­tor, ded­i­cated to Man­del’s bat­tle with can­cer, is a heart­felt thing of beauty. (An ac­com­pa­ny­ing DVD mir­rors the CD.)

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