Various, Rarities From The Bob Hite Vaults

Chuck Eddy

By Chuck Eddy

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Bob “The Bear” Hite is said to have begun collecting 78s as a mere cub, long before founding hippie blues band Canned Heat. He died in 1981, but his rare grooves live on.

Groovy rare 78s from an ardent collector.

Compiled by a Belgium-based DJ known as Dr. Boogie, selections here date from 1941 to 1958. A half-dozen or so are instrumentals, occasionally dancing a sleazy stroll that smells green MG's onions on the way. There's also some luxurious midnight rib-joint proto-soul (Clarence Brown), some proto-hard-rock-guitared jump blues (Otis Rush), some tough-woman wang-dang-doodle about a guy who does the twist (Etta James), a sax-charging and Latin-tinged zoot suit riot by an apparently unknown performer (Mad Mel Sebastian's “Pachuco Hop”) and Earl King singing in a register high enough to rival Hite's own. Plus, at the end, six tracks by Elmore James — which might seem like overkill, but his “Country Boogie” and “Baby What's Wrong,” especially, really kick.

The 78 that kicks hardest, though, comes from someone you'd never expect: spitcurled shlockabilly opportunist Bill Haley. Huge Gene Krupa-style drums introduce a totally clock-rocking if highly ethnocentric tale of a “little fella named Zulu Joe” inventing the boogie on his tom-toms in Africa, while elephants and kangaroos (the latter not even an African animal!) swing along. Birds chirp in the background, and the title, “Birth of the Boogie,” is almost “Bertha Butt Boogie” by the Jimmy Castor Bunch, 20 years early.