Music Review: Canned Heat – Live at Montreux Jazz Festival, 1973

This should actually be titled Bob “The Bear” Hite vs Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown as Gatemouth sings on tracks two to five joining the group right after a terrific “On The Road Again”, their 1968 hit single which the late Alan Wilson created from a 1953 Floyd Jones song which Wikipedia notes was itself inspired by a 1928 Tommy Johnson song.   This is brought to your attention because in 1970 Norman Greenbaum put his terrific “Spirit In The Sky” onto the airwaves, further psychedelisizing the mantra started by Al Wilson.   It’s very significant because Wilson’s untimely passing on September 3, 1970 the song further evolves with Hite giving his earthy blues tone to this classic song on Live At Montreaux.  Then comes Gatemouth Brown with his perspective on “Please Mr. Nixon”, “Worried Life Blues’, “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” and “Funky”.

It’s almost like two sets in one – “Night Time Is the Right Time” features guitar player James Shane on vocals, as does the excellent “Lookin’ For My Rainbow”, one of this writer’s favorite tracks on this delicious disc.  The Bear comes back for the hit “Let’s Work Together” and “Rock and Roll Music” making for a well-rounded set that has a variety of dimensions.

A seductively strange “Montreaux Boogie” (a.ka. “Shake ‘n’ Boogie”) improvisation / instrumental covers the last fourteen minutes of the disc, a wonderful snapshot of Canned Heat three years after Wilson’s passing, displaying a survivability and passion for the blues music they have studied —and preached about – for years.

1. On the Road Again
2. Please Mr. Nixon w/Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown
3. Worried Life Blues w/ Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown
4. Ooh Poo Pah Doo w/ Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown
5. Funky w/ Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown
6. Night Time is the Right Time
7. Let’s Work Together
8. Rock and Roll Music
9. Lookin’ for My Rainbow
10. Montreux Boogie (improvisation)

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for, and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.