If you are a fan of blues, especially the boogie blues that Canned Heat produces then you are in for a real treat with Canned Heat: Live at Montreux. This DVD is a recording of a concert that took place in 1973 and features the then line up of Bob "The Bear" Hite (Vocals, Harmonica, Bass), Ed Beyer (Piano), Henry Vestine (Guitar), Fito De La Parra (Drums), Richard Hite (bass) and James Shane (Guitar, Vocals).
The show begins with "On The Road Again" which highlights The Bear's great harmonica and bluesy vocals. The driving rhythms of Richard Hite and Fito De La Parra playing off the guitar work of Vestine and Shane give the band its power. And to make it boogie we have the piano work of Ed Beyer. This is really what Canned Heat is all about.
The next four songs feature Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. This is a true bonus to the DVD to be able to watch Gatemouth at his best. Brown was a Louisiana/Texas blues musician who was a highly acclaimed musician on a wide variety of instruments including guitar, fiddle, mandolin and drums. In this performance it is just fascinating watching his play on the guitar and fiddle. Especially when he makes his guitar talk as he is mouthing the words. It is just amazing to see.
The sixth song, "Night Time Is The Right Time" highlights James Shane's vocals and guitar work. The remaining songs are vintage Canned Heat. It is pure enjoyment to watch.
The reason why Canned Heat has survived to this day is that they consistently reinvent themselves within the realm of blues boogie by the personnel of the moment and they let their personnel shine in the spotlight. It would have been easy for the Heat to fold after the death of co-founder Alan Wilson. Even easier to fold after the death of the icon Bob Hite, but Canned Heat still tours and puts out original material ("Friends in the Can"; 2003) after forty years in the business.
The other bonus of this package is the second DVD entitled Boogie With Canned Heat: The Canned Heat Story. This is a 140 minute documentary on the history of Canned Heat. It is told through the eyes of the drummer Fito De La Parra; the only remaining member of the group. De La Parra joined the band for the second album and has played on every album since then.
The second DVD includes interviews with other living members of the band and personnel as well a lot of rare footage of the early band with Alan Wilson. There is also amateur footage shot at concerts which give insight into what a boogie band of the late sixties and early seventies were really like. It goes on to show how the band deteriorated with the onslaught of the disco movement with drugs and alcohol as well as how it was starting to turn itself around at the time of Hite's death/overdose.
There is footage with John Lee Hooker from the time of "Hooker and Heat"; which subsequently gave Hooker his first album to make the charts. And also talks about the influence that Bob Hite had on the characters known as "The Blues Brothers".
The quality of both DVDs is very good as is the sound. Obviously, some of the footage on the documentary is not of high quality, but its importance is more of historical value. This is a must for anyone who loves the blues and even more important for those fans of Canned Heat.
Track Listing (Montreux 1973):
On the Road Again
Please Mr. Nixon w/ Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Worried Life Blues w/ Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Ooh Poo Pah Doo w/ Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Funky w/ Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Night Time is the Right Time
Let's Work Together
Rock and Roll Music
Lookin' for My Rainbow
Montreux Boogie (improvisation)