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Featuring the great Alan Wilson
on 25 March 2013
A double vinyl album released in late 1968, it's now on a 2-disc CD. Unlike the original vinyl, this allows you to listen to both sides of the live 40 minute Refried Boogie Parts 1 & 2 without have to leave your chair, unless it's to run screaming out of the room. Only joking; it's actually better than I was expecting, but I'll get onto their endless boogie later.
The first seven tracks (side one) are a mix of blues covers, rewritten blues standards, and originals and in general it's pretty good. It opens with a good version of Pony Blues sung by Hite which is followed by My Mistake an original and haunting song written and sung by Wilson to terrific effect. Also included is their massive hit Going Up The Country. It's all very solid enjoyable stuff.
Parthenogenesis, the final track (side 2 of the vinyl), is 20 minutes long and one of the most astonishing pieces of music to come out of the 60's rock and blues bands. Consisting of nine segments, it's mostly instrumental and begins with a couple of pieces with Wilson on jaw's harp (the polite name for the jew's harp) which are dark moody sonic pieces concluding with and unbelievable version of Rollin' and Tumblin'. Wilson's up front again with a jaunty piece where he overdubs his harp playing four times and accompanies himself on guitar. Then there's Hite singing accompanied by John Mayall on piano. Swiftly passing over the drum solo, Henry Vestine overdubs his lead guitar five times for a slow feedback-laden piece which segues into a melancholy instrumental with Wilson's expressive chromatic harp accompanied by a sitar. The penultimate track is the full band playing behind Vestine's Albert Collins-styled lead guitar and it all ends where it began with Alan Wilson's atmospheric jaw's harp. The whole thing is just amazing as it shows how much subtlety and variety the band could play with and how they could go places you'd never expect. Much to my surprise, it isn't the pretentious load of crap it's been accused of but is in fact highly accomplished and I just love it.
Less than two years later Alan Wilson, who gave so much light and shade to the band, was dead and Canned Heat just wasn't Canned Heat any more. All that was left was endless endless boogie.