Blues Underground Network
Blues Duo "Canned Heat"
"Canned Heat (Sterno) is a fuel made from denatured and jellied alcohol. It is designed to be burned directly from its can." Due to it's alcohol content, it was also unfortunately used as an intoxicant, "after straining through a piece of bread". Canned Heat is also the name of the "blues-rock/boogie rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California, USA, in 1965", and the name of the new Debut Album from Blues Duo. Both Canned Heat, the band and Canned Heat the Album title "took the name from Tommy Johnson's 1928 "Canned Heat Blues", a song about an alcoholic who had desperately turned to drinking Sterno, generically called "canned heat ".
Blues Duo consists of Tracy K and Jamie Steinhoff, with Tracy K being a very well known Canadian Recording Artist and Musician, whom has numerous awards and accolades including the 2007 Ontario Independent Music Award for "BEST BLUES", 2007 International Songwriting Competition Finalist in BLUES, 2007 International Songwriting Competition Finalist in PERFORMANCE, 2007 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search First Runner Up, 2006 WinnipegBlues.com HARMONICA PLAYER of the Year and 2006 WinnipegBlues.com FEMALE VOCALIST of the Year, and Jamie Steinhoff whom has remained, on the one hand, virtually unknown, yet on the other hand, is an extremely talented Artist who's "dedication to folk & blues from the 1920s to 40s is revealed in his swampy Delta slide and Piedmont fingerstyle guitar work and gritty soulful vocals ". Other performers with Tracy K and Jamie on "Canned Heat" were Stuart Green (Snare on "Chauffeur Blues", "Cowboy Blues", and "Lovin' Sam"), David Angell (Bass on "Chauffeur Blues"), and Emily Kohne (Background Vocals on "Heaven's Joy"). In addition to Vocals, Tracy K plays Harmonica, as well as, Acoustic Guitar on "Heaven's Joy" and even plays Kazoo on Track 5 ("Everybody Loves My Baby"). Jamie Steinhoff also does Vocals and plays Guitar, Dobro, and Banjo.
"Canned Heat" consists of 10 Tracks evenly distributed between Originals and Covers. Of the 5 Originals, Tracy K is credited with writing "Tailor Made", "Cowboy Blues", and "Heaven's Joy" and Jamie Steinhoff gets credit for "Ditty Wah So" and "Stolen Apple Jelly". Rounding out "Canned Heat" is a good selection of Covers including the title Track, Tommy Johnson's "Canned Heat", which by now needs no introduction, Lester Melrose's "Chauffeur Blues", a song that "was originally called Me and My Chauffeur Blues and performed by Memphis Minnie and covered by many other artists", and Robert "Barbecue Bob" Hicks' "Atlanta Moan", a song dedicated to a city he moved to in 1924. Robert Hicks, "nickname came from the fact that he was a cook in a barbecue restaurant. One of the two extant photographs of Bob show him playing his guitar while wearing a full length white apron and cook's hat". The remaining 2 Covers are Spencer Williams/Jack Palmer's "Everybody Loves My Baby", and Jack Yellen/Milt Ager's "Lovin' Sam".
"Everybody Loves My Baby", also known as "Everybody Loves My Baby, but My Baby Don't Love Nobody but Me", is a popular and jazz standard song composed by Spencer Williams in 1924. Lyrics were written by Jack Palmer. The opening phrases of the song's lyrics are featured in a fine early Langston Hughes poem, "The Cat and the Saxophone, 2am" (1926), about a couple's interactions at a jazz club in the 1920's ."
Lovin' Sam is a song by Sippie Wallace whom "ranks among the classic female American blues singers. Her songs "Lovin' Sam," "I'm a Mighty Tight Woman," and "Up the Country" numbered among the most popular blues in the United States during the 1920s."
"Canned Heat" comes across as Back Porch Blues in it's truest form. The songs are kept simple both musically and vocally. They also come across with a honest realism, especially the ones that only have Tracy K and Jamie Steinhoff performing, which number 6 of the Album's 10 Tracks. From the selection of the songs chosen for "Canned Heat", which at least among the Covers, one gets the great feel for the blues music coming out of the era of the early 20's and the Originals done on this Album help to keep that cohesive thread going.
As for my Favorites on "Canned Heat", it is hard to pick just a couple, but certainly I love it when the old Kazoo is brought out as it was on "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "Chauffeur Blues" also caught my attention, right away, with it's opening which could of easily been from the song "Good Morning Little School Girl".
I must say, I really love the Blues when it is offered in it's simplest form, after all that is where it originated from. "Canned Heat" does a very fine job of taking us back to the simpler times of the Blues, and masterfully so. I truly hope that Tracy K and Jamie Steinhoff continue as Blues Duo and in doing so, offer us much more of the same in the future, from these immensely talented Artists.
For old time Blues and Beyond, done right, I give "Canned Heat" my highest rating of 5*****.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
1. Canned Heat
2. Chauffeur Blues
3. Atlanta Moan
4. Ditty Wah So
5. Everybody Loves My Baby
6. Tailor Made
7. Cowboy Blues
8. Stolen Apple Jelly
9. Lovin' Sam
Listen To Samples Here...