Bear Traces: Nuggets from Bob's Barn

Bear Traces: Nuggets from Bob's Barn


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Despite Dr. Boogie's rather vehement assertion that Bear Traces: Nuggets from Bob's Barn is not a sequel to Dr. Boogie Presents Rarities from Bob Hite's Vaults, there is really no other way to view it. And that's fine, because like its predecessor, it's a carefully selected CD of stellar music taken from the once enormous, but now sadly miniscule -- and ever shrinking -- collection of 78s owned by the late Canned Heat founding vocalist Bob Hite. While the first volume focused on a fairly small array of vintage, well-known R&B and blues artists who directly influenced Hite, this set is a sprawling 32 tracks from artists known and obscure; its music ranges from boogie-woogie, rhythm & blues, jump blues, early rockabilly, and beyond. Dr. Boogie also admits he made no effort to clean any of this material other than the minimal remastering necessary to get it to compact disc, because he didn't want to cover over the raw energy in the material. That's more than fair because this disc blows the first volume away, with better-known gems from Lenny Dee and Joe Liggins to obscurities by Preston Love, H-Bomb Ferguson, Frankie Lee Sims, Waymon Brown, and tracks by legends like Huey Piano Smith. Included are a greasy, nasty electric guitar boogie by Lightnin' Hopkins called "Move on Out Boogie," and Johnnie "The Gash" Gray's original version of "Teruila," where you can hear the montuno piano lines and the claves clearly in this proto-Latin boogaloo. Every single track is a scorcher. More so than its predecessor, this makes one at least casually curious about Hite, his life as a record collector, and about the early music of Canned Heat (who were sadly written off during the punk era). The truth is, this music reveals the all-encompassing influence this music had on Hite and his companions: their form of endless boogie wasn't about rock stardom but being the next link in the then-living unbroken chain of the blues and boogie tradition (they helped to revive John Lee Hooker's career at the very least, see Hooker 'N' Heat). The music here is the proof in the pudding that Hite's well ran wide and deep. That said, whether you appreciate Hite, or want to reinvestigate Canned Heat is immaterial; with its detailed liner notes on performers, this little disc (or its double-LP edition) is a party in the making and stands on its own as a groovy, funky platter of pleasure.

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