Hooker 'n Heat is a double album released by blues legend John Lee Hooker and blues-rock band Canned Heat in early 1971. It was the last studio album to feature harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter Alan Wilson, who died in September 1970 from a drug overdose. The photo on the album cover was taken after Wilson's death, but his picture can be seen in a frame on the wall behind John Lee Hooker. Guitarist Henry Vestine was also missing from the photo session. The person standing in front of the window, filling in for Henry, is the band's manager, Skip Taylor. Careful examination of the photo reveals that Henry's face was later added by the art department. It was the first of Hooker's albums to chart, reaching number 78 in the Billboard charts.
When this two-LP set was initially released in January 1971, Canned Heat was back to its R&B roots, sporting slightly revised personnel. In the spring of the previous year, Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass) and Harvey Mandel (guitar) simultaneously accepted invitations to join John Mayall's concurrent incarnation of the Bluesbreakers…
Two classic Hooker LPs, all digitally re-mastered, 22 solid slabs of dark, leathery, brooding nostalgia. This is the electric blues at its very roots. If there’s still anyone out there reading this magazine who hasn’t at least one Hooker album in their collection, then you’re still a long way from qualifying as a blues aficionado. So this is a good place to start. This stripped-bare, one man and a growling electric guitar (on most tracks) music is the stuff those guys who fled the south for the auto production lines in the north used to listen to.
BGO Records has released two early ‘70s albums by the legendary John Lee Hooker. While admittedly not his best albums, they both still show this man did more than play the blues, he lived them. On these offerings, Hooker pumped out a slow moving steam engine of blues music that never picks up too much speed, yet keeps things chooglin’ along just fine.
Canned Heat is best known for the hits “Going Up The Country” and “On The Road Again,” but this was mainly a blues rock band, and they put out an album with John Lee Hooker titled Hooker ‘N’ Heat in early 1971. The album was all John Lee Hooker material, and was the last studio album to feature Alan Wilson, who died of a drug overdose in late 1970 (a member of the 27 Club). In the spring of 1971, Canned Heat performed with John Lee Hooker at Carnegie Hall. Part of the show was recorded, and now you can hear it with the release of Carnegie Hall 1971. This CD features liner notes by Dave Thompson, with portions of an interview with drummer Fito de a Parra.
John Lee Hooker was born in the deep south, in Clarksdale, Mississippi and had stays in several other important blues cities such as Memphis before he came to Detroit, where he became the preeminent bluesman of the city with his 1948 release Boogie Chillen'. Afterwards Hooker would record under various aliases so he could use different labels without legal trouble and be able to release his huge stash of songs quickly.
His output during the 50's and 60's was remarkable, both as a solo act (like Boogie Chillen') and with bands, as evidenced by his hit "Boom Boom". In the 70's Hooker recorded with the LA blues band Canned Heat in Hooker 'n Heat, a cross-generational collaboration that worked because Canned Heat were electric imitatator's of Hooker's boogie style.