Random Runners-up: ‘Let’s Work Together’, by Canned Heat

My special feature for the week is a moment in the sun for the singles that didn’t quite make it to the top. These aren’t particularly long-running, or unlucky #2 singles. They may not even be particularly good… They all simply peaked in the runners-up position.

Last one, and we’re off to the seventies today…

‘Let’s Work Together’, by Canned Heat

#2 for 1 week, behind ‘Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)‘, from 15th – 22nd Feb. 1970

A groovy last runner-up for the week. It’s got that slightly fried feel of some of the late-sixties/early-seventies #1s – ‘Spirit in the Sky’, ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘I Hear You Knocking’ – as if the band has been keeping the party going that little bit too long.

The message is positive, though: Together we stand, Divided we fall… Every boy, every woman and a-man…! while the frazzled lead guitar chops and changes, and the rhythm section chugs along with a nasty edge. It really feels like this should be the backing to a tale of sleaze and sauciness – a ‘Honky Tonk Women’ Pt II, for example – not such a feel-good rallying cry.

Lead-singer on this record, Bob Hite, also gives the lyrics a threatening edge. He snarls, rather than encourages. Come on, come on, Let’s work together… he sings, though I’m not sure I would, with him. I like it though, this scuzzy, bluesy, boogie-woogying tune.

It had been written and recorded in 1962, as ‘Let’s Stick Together’ by Wilbert Harrison, before being rerecorded in 1969, by the same guy, as ‘Let’s Work Together’. His version was the hit in the US, while Canned Heat had the success in the UK. It was by far their biggest hit here. I knew it best through the Bryan Ferry version, which he turned back to ‘Let’s Stick Together’… Way to complicate things… Ferry took that to #3 in 1976 – a great, if slightly glossier, reimagining in which he pleads with his wife not to divorce him.

I’ll leave you with the version that made #2 in early 1970, behind ‘Love Grows…’ (what a great top 2!) Enjoy. I’ll do another blast of random runners-up sometime, it was fun. The regular countdown will resume over the weekend.


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