"Boogie 2000" shows that the group Canned Heat is ready for the millennium. Over the years the band has evolved a style that mixes together elements of the old and the new. This reflects the combined influences of the old guard--Fito De La Parra, Larry "The Mole" Taylor, and producer/manager Skip Taylor--and the newer blood of Robert Lucas and Greg Kane.
The album features eight originals and four covers, the first of which is the excellent opener, "Wait and See." The song was written by Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino, but the driving rhythm is very much in the swamp pop vein. It shows that Lucas is the ideal frontman for the band. He has a big persona and a great big voice to match. Lucas is also an adept slide guitarist, something which he proves on the ensuing "Last Man."
There's a change of sound and vocalist for "World of Make Believe" where Greg Kane takes over. This one has a Latin edge, making the band sound almost Santanaesque, and illustrates the flexibility and versatility inherent in the current line up. More evidence for this comes in the band's mellower moments where they tackle songs that would not traditionally have been associated with The Heat. The first, Robert Moore's "Searchin' For My Baby," marries together elements of gospel and soul, and is immediately followed by a fairly straight country version of Willie Nelson's "I Got Loaded." The other example is the original "She Split," where the band do a more than passable impression of Steely Dan.
There's something indefinably wonderful about the guitar sound of The Heat. It's been there since the early days, and thankfully it's still there in plentiful supply. Just check out tracks like the Gary Cooper inspired "Too Much Giddyup (Not Enough Whoa)" if you don't believe me.
Proof of the band's contemporariness credentials comes with "2000 Reasons (Y2K Blues)." This is, somewhat surprisingly, only the second Blues song I've come across which deals with the impending doom that could result from the millennium bug. (The other is Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes "Millennium Blues.")
Canned Heat remains as relevant to the Blues today as they were thirty-something years ago when they formulated their John Lee Hooker-inspired brand of Blues 'n' Boogie. "Boogie 2000" retains enough elements to keep the older Heat fans happy, whilst still sounding fresh enough to win them plenty of new fans. Judged by any standards, "Boogie 2000" is a very good album by a band on top form.
Band web site: www.cannedheatmusic.com
This review is copyright © 1999 by Gordon Baxter , and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.