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V/A - Dr. Boogie Presents Rarities from the Bob Hites Vaults

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Artist: V/A

Album: Dr. Boogie Presents Rarities from the Bob Hites Vaults

Label: Sub Rosa

Review date: Mar. 20, 2008

Belgians love Canned Heat. This has something to do with a Belgian radio personality named Walter De Paduwa, a.k.a. Dr. Boogie, who begins each and every episode of his popular classic rock radio show with a different Canned Heat tune. Given the astonishing breadth of Sub Rosa’s catalog, their releasing this compilation of rare but relatively straightforward blues isn’t entirely out-of-the-ordinary. But if you’re confused about why the Belgian label – purveyors of minimal composition, experimental electronica, Tibetan chants, surrealist poetry, and other esoteric recordings –might be releasing a compilation of favorites from Canned Heat founder Bob Hite’s record collection, there’s your explanation.

Before he formed the band that played ”Going Up The Country” at Woodstock, Bob Hite was a Southern California record store clerk and an avid collector of 78 RPM blues records. As the format was already dead and not exactly fashionable in the early ’60s, he got his hands on a lot of records that few cared about in those days. Many of these became quite scarce over the course of his lifetime. Almost three decades after his death, ”Dr. Boogie” and Canned Heat drummer Fito De La Parra have dug up an album’s worth of rarely heard blues recordings from what remains of Hite’s once formidable collection.

The wonderfully crackly 78s preserved on this CD were originally released during the last decade or so of the format’s existence. Included are some rare songs by well-known blues singers – Otis Rush, Etta James, Bill Haley, and six closing tracks by Elmore James – and the rest are by more obscure artists like Mad Mel Sebastian, Eddie Hope, and the Hot Shots. These are the songs that fueled Hite’s all-night dance parties in Topanga Canyon at the height of Canned Heat’s popularity, and all of them are in the uptempo ”boogie woogie” style that Canned Heat faithfully adhered to on their own recordings.

Listening to these songs after checking out Canned Heat’s first album for the first time in my life, the trajectory between this stuff and early ZZ Top became crystal clear. And on that note, I’ll conclude that I can appreciate Canned Heat a hell of a lot more today than I did yesterday.

By Rob Hatch-Miller

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