LITTLE FEAT

Jazz Related Rock • United States
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Though they had all the trappings of a Southern-fried blues band, Little Feat were hardly conventional. Led by songwriter/guitarist Lowell George, Little Feat were a wildly eclectic band, bringing together strains of blues, R&B, country, and rock & roll. The bandmembers were exceptionally gifted technically and their polished professionalism sat well with the slick sounds coming out of Southern California during the '70s. However, Little Feat were hardly slick -- they had a surreal sensibility, as evidenced by George's idiosyncratic songwriting, which helped the band earn a cult following among critics and musicians. Though the band earned some success on album-oriented radio, the group was derailed after George's death in 1979. Little Feat re-formed in the late '80s, and while they were playing as well as ever, they lacked the skewed sensibility that made them cult favorites. Nevertheless, their albums and tours were successful, especially among American blues-rock fans.

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Amazon (logo)
Waiting for ColumbusWaiting for Columbus
Rhino 2002
$13.91
$5.97 (used)
Dixie ChickenDixie Chicken
Warner Off Roster 1987
$6.26
$2.09 (used)
As Time Goes By: Best Of Little FeatAs Time Goes By: Best Of Little Feat
Warner Bros Uk 1999
$7.03
$3.70 (used)
Original Album Series: Little Feat / Sailin' Shoes / Dixie Chicken / Feats Don't Fail Me Now / The Last Record AlbumOriginal Album Series: Little Feat / Sailin' Shoes / Dixie Chicken / Feats Don't Fail Me Now / The Last Record Album
Warner Bros. / Rhino 2012
$13.13
$15.99 (used)
Feats Don't Fail Me NowFeats Don't Fail Me Now
Warner Off Roster 1987
$5.44
$2.00 (used)
Waiting for ColumbusWaiting for Columbus
Double LP
Warner Bros. Records
$21.99 (used)
Let It RollLet It Roll
Warner Bros. Records 1990
$39.99
$0.99 (used)
Sailin' ShoesSailin' Shoes
Warner Off Roster 1987
$29.94
$4.28 (used)
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LITTLE FEAT Discography

LITTLE FEAT albums / top albums

LITTLE FEAT Little Feat album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Little Feat
Jazz Related Rock 1971
LITTLE FEAT Sailin' Shoes album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Sailin' Shoes
Jazz Related Rock 1972
LITTLE FEAT Dixie Chicken album cover 3.55 | 2 ratings
Dixie Chicken
Jazz Related Rock 1973
LITTLE FEAT Feats Don't Fail Me Now album cover 4.52 | 2 ratings
Feats Don't Fail Me Now
Jazz Related Rock 1974
LITTLE FEAT The Last Record Album album cover 3.05 | 2 ratings
The Last Record Album
Jazz Related Rock 1975
LITTLE FEAT Time Loves A Hero album cover 2.57 | 2 ratings
Time Loves A Hero
Jazz Related Rock 1977
LITTLE FEAT Down on the Farm album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Down on the Farm
Jazz Related Rock 1979
LITTLE FEAT Let It Roll album cover 3.52 | 2 ratings
Let It Roll
Jazz Related Rock 1988
LITTLE FEAT Representing the Mambo album cover 2.55 | 2 ratings
Representing the Mambo
Jazz Related Rock 1990
LITTLE FEAT Shake Me Up album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Shake Me Up
Jazz Related Rock 1991
LITTLE FEAT Ain't Had Enough Fun album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Ain't Had Enough Fun
Jazz Related Rock 1995
LITTLE FEAT Under the Radar album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Under the Radar
Jazz Related Rock 1998
LITTLE FEAT Chinese Work Songs album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Chinese Work Songs
Jazz Related Rock 2000
LITTLE FEAT Kickin' It at the Barn album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Kickin' It at the Barn
Jazz Related Rock 2003
LITTLE FEAT Down Upon the Suwannee River album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Down Upon the Suwannee River
Jazz Related Rock 2003
LITTLE FEAT Rocky Mountain Jam album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rocky Mountain Jam
Jazz Related Rock 2007
LITTLE FEAT Join the Band album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Join the Band
Jazz Related Rock 2008
LITTLE FEAT Rooster Rag album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rooster Rag
Jazz Related Rock 2012

LITTLE FEAT EPs & splits

LITTLE FEAT live albums

LITTLE FEAT Waiting for Columbus album cover 3.57 | 3 ratings
Waiting for Columbus
Jazz Related Rock 1978
LITTLE FEAT Live from Neon Park album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live from Neon Park
Jazz Related Rock 1996
LITTLE FEAT Live at the Rams Head: An Acoustic Evening With Little Feat album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at the Rams Head: An Acoustic Evening With Little Feat
Jazz Related Rock 2002
LITTLE FEAT Highwire Act: Live in St. Louis 2003 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Highwire Act: Live in St. Louis 2003
Jazz Related Rock 2003
LITTLE FEAT Barnstormin' Live - Volume One album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Barnstormin' Live - Volume One
Jazz Related Rock 2005
LITTLE FEAT Barnstormin' Live - Volume Two album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Barnstormin' Live - Volume Two
Jazz Related Rock 2005
LITTLE FEAT Rams Head Revisited album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rams Head Revisited
Jazz Related Rock 2010
LITTLE FEAT Live in Holland 1976 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Live in Holland 1976
Jazz Related Rock 2014

LITTLE FEAT demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

LITTLE FEAT re-issues & compilations

LITTLE FEAT 2 Originals of Little Feat album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
2 Originals of Little Feat
Jazz Related Rock 1975
LITTLE FEAT Hoy-Hoy! album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Hoy-Hoy!
Jazz Related Rock 1981
LITTLE FEAT As Time Goes By: The Very Best of Little Feat album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
As Time Goes By: The Very Best of Little Feat
Jazz Related Rock 1986
LITTLE FEAT Little Feat:Super Stars Best Collection album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Little Feat:Super Stars Best Collection
Jazz Related Rock 1990
LITTLE FEAT Hotcakes & Outtakes album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Hotcakes & Outtakes
Jazz Related Rock 2000
LITTLE FEAT 40 Feat: The Hot Tomato Anthology 1971-2011 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
40 Feat: The Hot Tomato Anthology 1971-2011
Jazz Related Rock 2011
LITTLE FEAT Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-to-1990 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-to-1990
Jazz Related Rock 2014

LITTLE FEAT singles (0)

LITTLE FEAT movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

LITTLE FEAT Reviews

LITTLE FEAT Representing the Mambo

Album · 1990 · Jazz Related Rock
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Chicapah
After the strange decade known as the 80s finally came to its inevitable end hopes ran high that a return to the adventuresome, “anything goes” spirit of the 70s was in the cards for music in general. For me, one of the bands that had a golden opportunity to take the lead in that endeavor was the revitalized Little Feat. They’d engineered an impressive comeback in ’88 (after 9 years of divorce) with their energetic, invigorating “Let It Roll” album that showed they still had a whole lotta spunk left in them so I figured they might be on the brink of introducing an inspiring movement to a naïve generation that would successfully marry jazz, funk and rock in new and intriguing ways. Alas, ‘twas not to be. While “Representing the Mambo” contains stellar musicianship, strong vocals through and through and has a sound that’s crisp and clean it fails to break any ground that hasn’t been plowed into a thousand springs before. Little Feat chose to present songs they thought their audience would approve of instead of boldly taking them along on a horizon-expanding journey. I have no doubt they gave it their all but chalk it up as an average album that could’ve been spectacular if they’d just rolled the dice.

By opening with “Texas Twister” the group picks up where they left off on the “Let It Roll” LP by charging from the gate aboard a rockin’ locomotive of a song characterized by a plethora of hot guitars courtesy of Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett. I’m always in favor of bands starting things off with a loud bang so the fact that it has little to do with jazz and a lot to do with aggressively kickin’ out the jams isn’t a detrimental tact for them to have employed. “Daily Grind” is next and its loping, funky groove is inviting but after a minute or so you find yourself waiting for that moment to arrive when the tune elevates itself into something special but it never comes. The individual performances are up to snuff yet they’re all cooped up in a mediocre composition that keeps them hemmed in like frustrated cattle. “Representing the Mambo” follows and the lively Latin influences are entertaining but, while their motives are admirable, the number meanders through various phases without ever finding a purposeful focus and the whole thing comes off as satisfying as a dry rice cake. “Woman in Love” is a throwback to the Lowell George era, nostalgic in a good way, and though it’s no classic by any means it’s an improvement over the previous two cuts.

On “Bad Gumbo” they capture an authentic atmosphere to wrap this Cajun ditty in and, for some reason I’ve never fathomed, I possess a deep-running affection for this genre that’s pleased as punch when it’s done right and it’s done right here. “Hoo, boy!” as they say in Louisiana. “Teenage Warrior” is next and Richie Hayward’s drums punch the speakers hard all during this riff-driven rocker but the song falls into the same trap as many of the others in that there’s nothing to grab onto that makes it something to be remembered half an hour later. At this juncture it appears that they used up all of their A-1 material on “Let It Roll” two years earlier and this is what was left. With “That’s Her, She’s Mine” the vintage Little Feat vibe arises to tantalize, tease and remind us fans of what a gifted songwriter and formidable presence the late Lowell George was in his heyday as the Feat frontman but it doesn’t wield the same magic. I know it’s not fair for me to compare every other track with their fabulous “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” period but I can’t help myself. It’s close but no cigar every time. “Feelin’s All Gone” is a song penned by vocalist Craig Fuller that sounds fine and all but it’s like a submarine sandwich that’s all bread and no meat.

By including “Those Feat’ll Steer Ya Wrong Sometimes” they hit rock bottom by deliberately descending into the dangerous pit of C&W where things rarely turn out well. This pitiful number does absolutely nothing for me and indicates that they were stupidly toying with the thought of appeasing the beer-swillin’ rednecks in their audience. Avoid this track as you would the plague. Oddly, as if they were being shy about it, they stick the two jazziest pieces on the tail end of the album. “The Ingénue” is a positive move in the right direction that helps greatly to wash the putrid taste out of one’s mouth put there by the dopey cut that preceded it. Bill Payne’s keyboard work is exemplary and guest Michael Brecker’s saxophone solo and subsequent riffs are delightfully refreshing to hear. If the band had zeroed in on this brand of shenanigans from the get-go this disc might’ve been a head-snapping dazzler that made big, game-changing waves. While not as good, “Silver Screen” still manages to close the record with class as it displays more of the jazz-tinted creativity I wish would’ve taken precedence over their “let’s play it safe” mentality that so dominates this album. Unfortunately, by the time this duo of tunes arrives it’s like the cavalry showing up a day late and there’s not a body to be found with its scalp intact.

This is where I parted company with Little Feat. For all I know the albums they recorded afterward and throughout the next two decades were fantastic but it seemed to me that they had nothing of consequence left to say. From what I’ve read Warner Brothers let them go after “Representing the Mambo” didn’t turn much of a profit for them and the label lamely blamed it on it being too jazz-oriented. Oh, really? I beg to differ because the jazz ingredient is next to negligible as far as I can decipher and that’s what attracted me to them in the first place. As of this record Little Feat without Lowell George had become just another competent rock & roll outfit that could sell out small venues and fairgrounds, providing the members with a decent living by being consistent crowd-pleasers. While there’s nothing wrong with that (it’s honest work if you can find it) I realized that my music budget would be better allocated elsewhere going forward.

LITTLE FEAT Let It Roll

Album · 1988 · Jazz Related Rock
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Chicapah
I’ve heard it said that absence heals all wounds and time makes the heart grow fonder. Wait. That sounds weird. My bad. But, at least in this scenario, the gist is that most bands often don’t know what they collectively have until it’s gone. Usually by the time their swollen egos ebb it’s too late for them to do anything about it except to haphazardly circle the wagons and put out a lame “reunion” album that only serves to make their fans feel taken advantage of while they take the money and run. Little Feat is one of those rare combos that defied the odds, did it right and regrouped for the long haul. After struggling to finish the surprisingly good “Down On the Farm” LP in ’79 (following front man Lowell George’s demise) the surviving members were so burned out and sick of each other’s company they couldn’t get far away fast enough. Their heartbroken followers justifiably figured Little Feat was kaput forevermore and sadly added them to the list of intriguing bands to pine for as the MTV virus-infected 80s dawned and music in general took a screaming nose-dive into the swamps of self-indulgence. As fate would have it, three of the Feat foundation did some session work together in ’86 and they realized (A) there was still some magic left between them and (B) that was a lot better than nothing at all so putting the band back together was the logical next step.

Bill Payne, Paul Barrere and Richard Haywood rounded up bass man Kenny Gradney and percussion guru Sam Clayton, recruited former Pure Prairie League vocalist Craig Fuller to fill Lowell’s sizeable sailin’ shoes and hired multi-instrument-capable/long-time tagalong Fred Tackett to try to rekindle the old sparks once again. Warner Brothers evidently liked the idea, signed them up and the fire was lit. Now all they needed was some inspired songs to arrange/record and, if they were lucky, their horde of Feat fanatics would come running back in droves. Employing George Massenburg to co-produce was a great move as well because no matter what you might think of the contents, “Let It Roll” sounds fantastic. So all was in place for the group to make their triumphant comeback and, being consummate professionals, they didn’t stumble. In fact, they beat all expectations. While the jazz quotient is rather low in comparison to their earlier, more eclectic works, the joyful enthusiasm contained in the tracks presented is undeniable and, as most music lovers know, that’s 75% of the battle. Their musicianship was always above reproach and they’re still dressed in its full regalia here.

They intelligently stay true to themselves and don’t try to be something they ain’t by kicking off this endeavor with a strong dose of southern-styled rockin’ R&B called “Hate to Lose Your Lovin’” that clearly shows they mean business. As was their forte for years, their performance is tight as an old wood screw in every department, Payne’s splendid piano playing is feisty as ever and Barrere’s slide guitar solo ensures continuity of their inimitable persona. New singer Fuller assures the skeptics that he’s more than adequate in that position as he belts out admirable vocal chops right and left. “One Clear Moment” follows sporting an energetic funk feel that’s hearty as a rib-eye steak and, despite the song not making a lasting impression, the crew of the re-launched Little Feat do a lot to turn a so-so tune into something entertaining. “Cajun Girl” is next and it’s exactly what you’d guess it to be yet this drivin’ Zydeco-sated number works well on several levels. The abrupt change of tempo they inject midway through is a clever trick. They then deliver four exemplary songs in a row, beginning with the bluesy R&B of “Hangin’ On to the Good Times.” The number’s groove flows easily and they wisely avoid complicating a tune that doesn’t need it. The poignant lyrics say volumes about where their heads were at. “And though we went our own ways/we couldn’t escape from where we came/so we find ourselves back at the table again/tellin’ stories of survivors and friends,” Craig sings.

The rolling rock riff that roils underneath “Listen to Your Heart” puts this cut on an arresting path that delights with dynamic kicks and accents interspersed throughout. The heavy jazz influence appearing in the chord progression and in the adventurous arrangement distinguishes this song from the others and I love the piercing lyric line of “You can’t expect to take the right road every morning.” “Let It Roll” is a motivating pile driver of a tune that pulls no punches. It doesn’t contain an iota of jazz but that’s okay because it burns hot as a branding iron and there are moments when we all need a jolt of adrenaline. I strongly recommend turning this one up. Bill tosses in some fine, growling Hammond B3 and Paul’s guitar licks are steamy as fresh dirty rice. Sometimes a band’s just gotta let their rock & roll ogre out of his cage for a while. A hard-hitting rock underpinning pushes “Long Time Till I Get Over You” relentlessly and Fuller ups the ante with his best performance as he punctuates the pungent words. “Seems like every time I’m feelin’ stronger/you call me up with just the right line/keep me hangin’ on a little longer/and don’t it get me every time,” he rues. Barrere proves himself a worthy understudy who learned a ton about how to play slide guitar from Lowell George.

On “Business As Usual,” another boisterous rocker, an interesting approach keeps things from getting stale early on but on the whole it’s a tad too busy for my taste and the lyrics chastising TV evangelists are woefully dated as in “been there, done that.” They step back up with “Changin’ Luck,” an excellent song that demonstrates their unwillingness to conform to the standard formula Top 40 writing restrictions that were in effect in the 80s. Payne’s dense keyboards are superbly layered and Hayward’s drums are steady and confident from top to bottom. The words hit close to home, too. “I’d just like to see/all or nothin’/high or low/just how far this game can go,” Craig sings. The lovely and talented Linda Ronstadt accompanies Fuller on “Voices on the Wind,” a slick as Vaseline power ballad that provides them a sturdy platform to let their voices soar to the heavens (and they do) but it’s one of those tunes you’re likely to encounter at the end of a blockbuster movie as the credits roll. It’s not bad but very predictable.

In conjunction with the album’s release in July ‘88 their management team had a stroke of genius and landed them the primo gig on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” show. Their kickass performance boldly announced that they were not only back but ready to contend with the “big hair” boys for everyone’s attention and to say it was a smash is a gross understatement. Everyone I knew was talking about them for days afterward and their fans were ecstatic. That timely appearance and the quality of the album’s tracks propelled “Let It Roll” to quickly achieve gold record status and Little Feat was a viable commodity in the marketplace once again. As I stated earlier, this probably won’t perk up a jazz aficionado’s ears and cause him to salute but it’s a funk/rock album that any jazzer would be comfortable playing for his peers without apology.

LITTLE FEAT Down on the Farm

Album · 1979 · Jazz Related Rock
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Chicapah
There are just some things that can’t be explained. How the weird stone statues got to Easter Island, why there isn’t an exact number for pi and why “Down On the Farm” is better than the two studio albums that preceded it to name but a few. By all reasoning the disc should be a train wreck because the members of Little Feat were so at odds with each other that they actually announced they were breaking up while they were still recording it and their charismatic front man Lowell George unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack before it was finished. Taking all that into consideration they could certainly have been excused for putting out a disjointed, uninspired collection of songs but this album turned out to be one of their best. Their inner conflicts spurred them to create some of the finest music they’d made in half a decade in spite of themselves. I guess it proves the adage that the hardiest gardens grow out of the smelliest manure. Or something like that.

The album opens with an amusing “slice of life” episode involving an unidentified man and a persistent, croaking toad that lightens the mood immediately. The band then leaps into the title tune written by guitarist Paul Barrere and it turns out to be one of the more exciting tracks they’d laid down in years. It’s a perfect blend of funk and rock that never produces a single dull moment and the humorous lyrics are bound to raise a smile (a variation on the old “how you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” theme.) It immediately became one of my favorite Feat songs the first time I heard it and that lofty ranking has yet to change. Lowell’s “Six Feet of Snow” doesn’t fare as well, though. It’s a Cajun spice-inflected ditty that belies George’s ongoing fascination with the country/folk genre. Guest musician Sneaky Pete performs flawlessly on his pedal steel guitar and it’s probably a treat if you care for that kind of stuff. (Sorry, I don’t.) But the group bounces right back from that dip in the trail with Paul’s “Perfect Imperfection,’ an excellent tune with a slinky west coast R&B feel supporting a jazzy chord progression. Barrere’s short guitar solo is gutsy and penetrating and Bill Payne’s keyboards provide a dense backdrop for Lowell’s emotional singing. Again, to this day I’m astounded at the high level of artistry they were able to collectively conjure up out of themselves while dealing with distracting discord within the ranks.

George’s “Kokomo” follows and, unfortunately, it just never finds a solid groove to travel in. The track sounds forced and it drags down the album’s momentum just when it was regaining its stride. The songs Lowell co-wrote with Bill Payne are much better although the next cut (one he penned with his pal Fred Tackett), “Be One Now,” is the exception. It’s definitely a step up in quality over “Kokomo,” thanks in no small part to having a less predictable structure. Most of all I like how they refrained from unnecessarily trying to enhance George’s voice on this number. His unadorned singing works like magic just as it is. Bill and Lowell’s “Straight From the Heart” sports a light but motivating funk drive that pushes the song forward from the get go. The intertwining guitar work from Barrere and George (on bottleneck slide) is mutually complimentary and very entertaining to pay attention to while the rhythm section of Richard Haywood on drums and Kenny Gradney on bass puts down a firm foundation without ever letting things get too busy. Another Payne & George composition, “Front Page News,” picks up where that one left off and this tune possesses a noteworthy Steely Dan vibe yet it maintains their unique Little Feat atmospherics. Bill’s piano and synthesizer artistry is outstanding and Lowell’s voice is superb in its powerful subtlety. The second half of the tune is so sublime it’s almost transcendent and it shows definitively their affection for and their ability to concoct jazzy auras. When these guys were on their feed they were as good as any band in America.

I may be wrong but I suspect that Payne’s “Wake Up Dreaming” was one of the last tracks recorded (possibly after George had left the sessions) because it’s uncharacteristically poppish. It adopts a sign-of-the-times Fleetwood Mac-like format that isn’t all that offensive yet it effectively pronounces the end of an era for the group because it hardly sounds like them at all. Having said that, they mold it in a presentable fashion and Paul turns in a hot guitar ride along the way. As far as the closer goes, conga man Sam Clayton’s amateurish “Feel The Groove,” my advice is to do yourself a favor and skip it altogether. It’s a weak, reggae beat-soaked ditty that has filler written all over it due to there being no other explanation for it having an existence except to take up 4:48 to complete the vinyl disc. I warn you, it’s a waste of one’s precious listening time that would be well-spent doing most anything else in the world. It’s quite difficult to sit through this one without becoming nauseated and it’s a stain on their resume.

Nevertheless, as bad as the last track is, by ignoring it you’ll find “Down On the Farm” a very worthwhile album to indulge in and a fitting salute to Lowell George’s illustrious career as the leader of Little Feat. (If his uneven solo debut was any indication, he wasn’t about to set the world afire on his own.) It was released in November of ’79, just under five months after his tragic passing and the band disintegrated immediately into the ether. It would be nine long years before the surviving members realized how special their cooperative blend of styles was and wisely re-grouped for another extended run together. I’m glad they didn’t shove 8 of these 9 songs into a locked vault when things went south for them and conceal them from their fans. They were smart to put this one out. Otherwise we fans would’ve missed out on getting to enjoy some of their better material and that would’ve been a travesty.

LITTLE FEAT Waiting for Columbus

Live album · 1978 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Chicapah
In March of 1978 Little Feat finally released their long-awaited live album in the form of a two-record set called “Waiting for Columbus.” Many of their fans, including myself, had heard for years that they were a tremendous act to behold in concert but had, for various reasons, not been able to catch them on one of their tour dates and hoped that this would at least give us a delectable taste of what we’d been missing out on. We weren’t disappointed. Their undeniable affection for performing came bursting through the speakers without hindrance and, to this day, it remains an essential piece of the Little Feat catalogue of work. Whatever personality and/or musical direction conflicts they were dealing with and fighting over in the inner circle of the group were left in the studio environ, it would seem, for the music (with few exceptions) is exuberantly executed, performed with honest joy and professionalism by all the participants.

As if to give the listener an inside peek at what went on during the stroll from the dressing room to the stage (in the case of Little Feat, anyway), the album starts with “Join the Band.” It’s a sort of an a capella ensemble warm up chant that they perhaps employed to get them “in the mood” and it’s typical of the band’s eccentricity to do so. But once they don their instruments they get right down to business and launch directly into one of the best show openers ever, the funky rocker “Fat Man in the Bathtub.” It decisively demonstrates how powerful this group could be in person and how much excitement they could generate for their audience. If I were called upon to play but one representative cut for someone who’d never heard of Little Feat this would be the one I’d select. It’s got everything that made them so unique. They follow that barnburner with “All That You Dream,” a song from “The Last Record Album” that benefits greatly from the spontaneous combustion they cause it to undergo by unleashing it from the confines of the studio walls and letting it breathe freely. Next up is “Oh Atlanta,” a terrific rendition of a terrific song culled from their awesome “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” LP. Lowell George’s trademark slide guitar slices and dices like a sharp butcher knife. The humorous “Old Folks’ Boogie” is the first track where the studio version packs more punch but it still works as an effective crowd-pleaser.

“Time Loves a Hero” is just the opposite in that it’s one where their live performance grants the tune some much-needed bite. They do some interesting things with the arrangement and it really spices up an otherwise pedestrian number. From that they segue right into “Day or Night” seamlessly and the two songs fit together like matched leather gloves. There are several wicked solos to indulge in along the way, too. “Mercenary Territory” is a so-so rendering of a so-so tune but the sizzling “Tower of Power” horn section that accompanied them on this particular tour adds a wider dimension to it, highlighted by Lenny Pickett’s brash and sassy sax ride. “Spanish Moon” is one of my all-time favorite Feat ditties and they do it full and proper justice here. The irrepressible groove created and maintained by the tight-as-pantyhose rhythm section of Kenny Gradney on bass, Ritchie Hayward on drums and Sam Clayton on percussion is a thing of beauty and Lowell’s voice is amazing. “Dixie Chicken” is probably their most well-known composition and here they give their adoring followers a playful, extended version that satisfies them completely. Bill Payne’s piano ride is a delight and when the horn section veers into some authentic New Orleans Dixieland it takes on a life of its own, leading up to a dynamic guitar duel between George and Paul Barrere towards the end. From there they slickly transition into the fast-paced “Tripe Face Boogie,” one of their most hard-rocking numbers and they slay it without mercy.

For “Rocket in my Pocket” they once again inject some adrenaline into a song that came off sounding woefully anemic in the studio take, finding stronger legs under the hot Klieg lights. “Willin’” was the Lowell George country/folk tune that became a standard for club bands coast to coast to play in the early 70s and this subdued but poignant acoustic-heavy presentation is well done considering that by that time they were probably sick to death of it. Unfortunately, this is where the show begins to falter. Their mercifully brief, embarrassingly loose run-through of a verse and chorus of “Don’t Bogart that Joint” from the “Easy Rider” soundtrack elicits whoops and hollers from the glassy-eyed stoners in the arena but is woefully dated and corny. “A Apolitical Blues” follows and it is so crudely arrhythmic and discombobulated that one would swear it’s no more than a bad practical joke. One might think that except “Sailin’ Shoes” is next and it’s no better. WTF happened? Did the band suddenly get drunk or stoned or both? Why they let these two recordings go on the record is a mystery to me. At least they go out on a high note with a manic version of “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” This infectious number brings a smile to my face every time and it’s perfectly suited for Lowell to entice the crowd into participating in some lively call-and-response action.

Taped in London and Washington D.C. in August of 1977, this album caught the group at the height of their popularity and influence. Few of their loyal flock had an inkling that they were slowly disintegrating from the inside out although, in hindsight, the two LPs that came after “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” did give hints that all was not fragrant in their rose garden. Tensions between Lowell and the rest of the gang continued to mount after this particular tour was over as George turned his full attention to his solo career, leaving Little Feat to wonder what their future held until his untimely death in 1979. “Waiting for Columbus” serves as an admirable and worthy testament to what this band of renegades was all about. They were a group of artists that took a literal potpourri of musical styles and genres and somehow made them all come together cohesively in an inimitable, eclectic casserole. If you’re a newbie to the Feat, this is a good place to start.

LITTLE FEAT Time Loves A Hero

Album · 1977 · Jazz Related Rock
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Chicapah
The 70s version of Little Feat peaked in 1974 with their outstanding “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” album. That entire disc literally bristles with enthusiasm and irresistible charm. But in the years that followed it became obvious that things weren’t exactly utopian inside the confines of the group dynamic and the stress was systematically eroding their mojo. When “Time Loves a Hero” finally hit the bins in May of 1977 I bought it in hopes that it would prove that their previous LP, “The Last Record Album,” had been nothing but a slight detour from greatness and they’d come charging back as thrilling as before. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It’s no lemon by any means because there are excellent moments to be savored here and there due to their superb musicianship but it never delivers the knockout punch. If anything, it shines a bright and revealing light on Little Feat’s ongoing internal dissention, a lesion that had been festering for several years and was starting to adversely affect their music.

Since gossip about less-than-high-profile bands such as this one was practically non-existent in those days except for small blurbs appearing in rags like Rolling Stone, we fans of the Feat had no idea that they weren’t getting along fabulously. We weren’t aware that lead singer/slide guitar virtuoso Lowell George was battling a debilitating drug addiction or that he was becoming more and more unstable/unreliable in his role as leader of the pack. In fact, his personal war of afflictions was causing the other members to have to step up, take charge and develop the new material necessary to keep things rolling along and therein lies a major problem. Their tunes were just not as good as what Lowell had come up with in the group’s formative years and no amount of top-notch production, arranging and/or studio expertise could make an average song excel beyond its inherent weaknesses. In other words, “Time Loves a Hero” is as good as they could possibly make it but they couldn’t possibly make it great.

They open with guitarist Paul Barrere’s tune, “Hi Roller,” that had been left off the preceding album. But, as the liner notes for that disc indicated, the band had promised to include it the next time around and they were now making good on that vow. Perhaps they should’ve held onto it as a bonus cut on a future “Greatest Hits” compilation for, despite its perky funk groove and some punchy horns courtesy of Tower of Power, it’s rather ordinary and a bit dated. The invigorating instrumental middle section makes the track soar briefly and Bill Payne’s growling Hammond B3 organ bestows upon it some beefy balls but it falls well short of dazzling the senses. Perhaps the lyrics offer a telltale peek inside their quarrelsome lair. “Blind alleys and dead ends/it’s a lousy shipwreck,” George sings. The title song is next and its lazy Latin feel paves the number a smooth path to follow with some nice accents interspersed to give it low sparks but overall it’s too laid back to generate any heat. Lowell’s only unassisted songwriting contribution to the album follows in the form of “Rocket in my Pocket.” It’s a typical George concoction in that it contains plenty of odd quirks to set it apart from the regular riff-raff heard on the FM radio dials of that age yet it’s no “Dixie Chicken,” either. It just never finds its focus and thusly is doomed to being easily forgotten.

One of the main sources of disagreement between Lowell and the rest of the boys was that the majority were becoming more and more intrigued by and drawn to the world of jazz/rock fusion whereas he wanted to continue to emphasize their eclectic rock & roll attitude. Therefore, on Payne’s adventurous instrumental, “Day at the Dog Races,” there’s not a trace of Mr. George to be found. Bill’s synthesized Spanish guitar intro is clever and once the band roars into the complex rhythms of the piece they prove conclusively that they’re more than capable of pulling this sort of thing off with aplomb. Barrere injects some admirable guitarisms into the furious jam but it’s Payne’s keyboard acumen that steals the show on this six and a half minute excursion. Paul’s “Old Folks Boogie” is the coolest song on the record. It has a glorious funk/rock foundation provided by drummer Ritchie Hayward and bassist Ken Gradney and also features what was once one of their trademarks: wry humor. “And ya know/that you’re over the hill/when your mind makes a promise/that your body can’t fill,” Lowell smirks. Bill’s raucous barroom piano is a fun treat, as well.

Payne’s “Red Streamliner” is a rocker that comes off a whole lot more like a Doobie Brothers deal than a Little Feat ditty, thanks in no small part to both Patrick Simmons and Michael McDonald lending their inimitable voices to the choral refrains in the background. It’s not a bad tune but it sounds as if they made it too complex for its own welfare and it loses vital momentum on more than one occasion. The group evidently found it necessary to go outside the fold for extra material as evidenced by their covering renegade country writer Terry Allen’s “New Delhi Freight Train.” It’s a strange combo of a funk, rock and C&W mentality that only works part of the time. Other than a strong, full chorus it doesn’t make much of an impression. On Barrere and George’s “Keepin’ Up With the Joneses” the group’s anemic lack of excitement seeps through the otherwise tight track, robbing it of all energy and purpose. One gets the feeling that the band had, by then, lowered its standards to a “good enough for jazz” level instead of challenging themselves to reach for the sky. Thankfully, they end on a positive note by presenting Paul’s simple country/folk song, “Missin’ You.” Even though it’s no more than acoustic guitar and vocal, it’s the album’s finest moment in that it really brings to the forefront Lowell’s expressive and uncompromising voice. Short but very, very sweet.

Sadly, this was to be Lowell George’s last complete LP with Little Feat before he suffered a heart attack and passed away in June of 1979. (Note: He would appear on several studio cuts included in “Down on the Farm,” released after his death.) By the end of the tour that supported this album he had pretty much disassociated himself from the group and soon after began a solo career but he will forever be identified with Little Feat. The discouraged survivors parted company for a while but they eventually reformed and honorably carried on the band’s legacy for decades, creating some excellent music along the way. In summation, “Time Loves a Hero” is like a fancy wedding cake that appears to be perfectly constructed but has nothing in it to tantalize the taste buds. It’s far from being their finest hour yet it doesn’t soil their reputation as consummate professionals who always did the best they could with what they had.

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