Little Feat – Highwire Act – Live In St. Louis 2003 (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgHighwire Act: Live in St. Louis 2003 is the fifth live album by the American rock band Little Feat, released in 2004. (see 2004 in music). There was also a video of the same performance released on DVD.

Essentially, this double-disc set is the soundtrack to the DVD of the same name. Sonically, it is sublime; the subtleties of a live performance are all left in. The interplay between guitarists Fred Tackett and Paul Barrére is exceptional, as are the drop-dead-on-a-dime fills of keyboardist Bill Payne. The track selection leans a little more to the classic side of Little Feat’s vast catalog, with many tracks from the 1970s in the set, including “Time Loves a Hero,” “Skin It Back,” “Old Folks Boogie,” “Oh Atlanta,” “Spanish Moon,” “Dixie Chicken,” “Tripe Face Boogie,” “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” “Willin’,” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” The latter material is served well, too, particularly “I’d Be Lyin’,” by new lead vocalist (though she has been with the band for a decade) Shaun Murphy, and Bill Payne’s “Cadillac Hotel.” And while it’s fair to say that this is the band’s best live outing since Waiting for Columbus, it in no way gets to the emotional and performance heights that classic slab did, even if the band does play “better” now. This set will not likely win the band any new fans, but if you’re one of those who stuck it out after the passing of Lowell George, this collection might just be the thing you’re looking for. (by Thom Jurek)

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Little Feat and the Allman Brothers Band have much in common. Both bands incurred losses of integral personnel (Lowell George in the case of Little Feat and Duane Allman in the case of the Allman Brothers Band). Both bands realized a fallow, sub-productive period following these losses. And both bands emerged from the 20th Century with a second wind that can be boasted by few other rock groups founded in the late 1960s. Corporately, both bands took creative control of their band books and subsequently released new studio recordings showing plainly that these bands were not finished doing their thing, but were just getting started on their second wind.

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The Allman Brothers Band have recently released One Way Out , a concert token recorded during the band’s 2003 stand at New York City’s Beacon Theater. The band reprised much of their old material but also showed they were prepared to create new concert standards for themselves. Now Little Feat has done (continued to do) the same thing with their new live recording, Highwire Act Live in St. Louis 2003. This concert, recorded in St. Louis Missouri in mid-2003 and released as a DVD, was so popular that it has now been released as a two-CD set.

One might ask, “Do we really need one more live Little Feat Recording.” When the playing is as impassioned as this (and just like mirror situation with the Allman Brothers Band), there can conceivable never be too many live recordings by Little Feat. Both bands have clearly benefited by the addition of new band members and then the stabilization of their respective lineups. In the case of Little Feat, it was the final addition of songstress Shaun Murphy and long time Feat associate (and fellow Arkansan) Fred Tackett to the fold that has brought the band to its current high level of creativity.

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On Highwire Act Live in St. Louis 2003 the band retains several song combinations they have used on past live recordings. “Spanish Moon” and “Skin It Back” are coupled, as they should be, as well as “Dixie Chicken “and” Tripe Face Boogie” and “Time Loves a Hero” with “Day or Night.” The concert characteristic that makes Little Feat a darling of the Jam Band bunch is the propensity Feat has for rearranging their songs from one performance to the next. This is most beautifully illustrated when considering this present “Dixie Chicken” with that previously released on the band’s last disc, Down Upon the Suwannee River . On the latter recording, Paul Barrere introduces “Chicken” with a potently humid “Lafayette Railroad,” which was originally released on the LP Dixie Chicken. This present “Chicken” begins with a shuffle vamp that includes an eerily Miles Davis open bell from Fred Tackett. In both cases it is Bill Payne who is the real star, weaving 300 years of piano science into each performance.

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The “new” (read, post-Lowell George) Little Feat classics included are “Cadillac Hotel” form 1995’s Ain’t Had Enough Fun and “Cajun Girl” and “Let it Roll” from 1988’s Let it Roll. “Let it Roll” has become a veritable concert favorite with its whiplash hooks and Barrere extends the interior of the piece with some white-hot riffing. Little Feat’s most recent recording, Kickin’ It At the Barn , provides its two best songs, Barrere’s “Night on the Town,” featuring some inspired acoustic slide by the guitarist, and Shaun Murphy’s swampy “I’d Be Lyin’.”

One of the biggest differences between the Lowell George brand of live Little Feat and the present band?s live performance is in the production. Lowell George favored a lean finesse sound while Barrere and Payne have opted for a wall-of-sound mixing that takes advantage of the sheer power as a live band Little Feat is able to express. This power is evident on Live From Neon Park , but was not in as full of bloom as outtakes found on Ripe Tomatos, Volume 1 and Raw Tomatos, Volume 1. I readily cite “Rock & Roll Doctor” from on Raw Tomatos, Volume 1. The music is characterized by sheer momentum, urgent and unstoppable. (C. Micheal Bailey)

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Personnel:
Paul Barrere (guitar, vocals)
Sam Clayton (percussion, vocals)
Kenny Gradney (bass)
Richie Hayward (drums, vocals)
Shaun Murphy (percussion, vocals)
Bill Payne (keyboards, vocals)
Fred Tackett (trumpet, vocals)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Introduction / Time Loves A Hero (Barrère/Gradney/Payne) 5.59
02. Day Or Night (Payne/Tate) 9.48
03. Cadillac Hotel (Payne/Wray) 6.47
04. Spanish Moon (George) 8.26
05. Skin It Back (Barrère) 6.41
06. Cajun Girl (Kibbee/Payne) 6.42
07. Night On The Town (Barrère/Tackett) 5.59
08. I’d Be Lyin’ (Creamer/Mariani/Murphy) 5.35
09. The Blues Don’t Tell It All (Murphy/Payne) 6.20

CD 2:
01. Old Folks Boogie (Barrère) 7.19
02. Oh Atlanta (Payne) 4.53
03. Dixie Chicken (George/Kibbee) 17.45
04. Tripe Face Boogie (Hayward/Payne) 7.18
05. Fat Man In The Bathtub (George) 11.45
06. Let It Roll (Barrère/Kibbee/Payne) 9.30
07. Willin’ (George) 8.07
08. Feats Don’t Fail Me Now (Barrère/George/Kibbee) 5.26

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Little Feat – Same (1971)

LPFrontCover1.jpgLittle Feat is an American rock band formed by singer-songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist Lowell George and keyboardist Bill Payne in 1969 in Los Angeles. George disbanded the group due to creative differences in 1979, shortly before his death. Surviving members reformed Little Feat in 1987, remaining intermittently active to the present.

Little Feat is the first studio album by the rock band Little Feat. It was released in 1971 on Warner Bros. Records.

The album was recorded mostly during sessions between August and September 1970. Its sound is in a similar vein as the band’s more widely known later recordings, such as 1973’s Dixie Chicken and 1978’s Waiting For Columbus. The record features Little Feat’s Mk. 1 line-up, with Roy Estrada on bass. It was the first of eight albums by the band before its initial 1979 break-up. The cover shows a mural, “Venice in the Snow”, which was painted by the L. A. Fine Arts Squad in 1970 in Venice, Los Angeles. In 2007, the album was released as a gold CD through the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. (by wikipedia)

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It sold poorly (around 11,000 copies) and the band never cut anything like it again, but Little Feat’s eponymous debut isn’t just one of their finest records, it’s one of the great lost rock & roll albums. Even dedicated fans tend to overlook the album, largely because it’s the polar opposite of the subtly intricate, funky rhythm & roll that made their reputation during the mid-’70s. Little Feat is a raw, hard-driving, funny and affectionate celebration of American weirdness, equal parts garage rock, roadhouse blues, post-Zappa bizarreness, post-Parsons country rock and slightly bent folk storytelling. Since it’s grounded in roots rock, it feels familiar enough, but the vision of chief songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Lowell George is wholly unique and slightly off-center. He sees everything with a gently surreal sense of humor that remains affectionate, whether it’s on an ode to a “Truck Stop Girl,” the weary trucker’s anthem “Willin’,” or the goofy character sketch of the crusty old salt “Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie.”

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That affection is balanced by gutsy slices of Americana like the careening travelogue “Strawberry Flats,” the darkly humorous “Hamburger Midnight” and a jaw-dropping Howlin’ Wolf medley guest-starring Ry Cooder, plus keyboardist Bill Payne’s terrific opener “Snakes on Everything.” The songwriting itself is remarkable enough, but the band is its equal — they’re as loose, vibrant and alive as the Stones at their best. In most respects, this album has more in common with George’s earlier band the Factory than the rest of the Little Feat catalog, but there’s a deftness in the writing and performance that distinguishes it from either band’s work, which makes it all the more remarkable. It’s a pity that more people haven’t heard the record, but that just means that anyone who owns it feels like they’re in on a secret only they and a handful of others know. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Roy Estrada (bass, background vocals)
Lowell George (guitar, slide-guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Richard Hayward (drums, background vocals)
Bill Payne (keyboards, vocals on 01. + 10., background vocals)
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Ry Cooder (slide guitar on 05., + 07.)
Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel guitar on 09.)
Russ Titelman (percussion, background vocals, piano on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Snakes On Everything (Payne) 3.08
02. Strawberry Flats (Payne/George) 2.25
03. Truck Stop Girl (Payne/George) 2.32
04. Brides Of Jesus (Payne/George) 3.23
05. Willin’ (George) 2.25
06. Hamburger Midnight (George/Estrada) 2.32
07. Forty-Four Blues / How Many More Years (Sykes/Burnett) 6.32
08. Crack In Your Door (George) 2.19
09. I’ve Been The One (George) 2.24
10. Takin’ My Time (Payne) 3.50
11. Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie (Payne/George) 1.57

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Lowell Thomas George (April 13, 1945 – June 29, 1979)

Little Feat – Waiting For Columbus (1978/2002)

frontcover1Waiting for Columbus is the first live album by the band Little Feat. The album was recorded during seven performances in 1977. The first four shows were held at the Rainbow Theatre in London on August 1–4, 1977. The final three shows were recorded in George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium on August 8–10 that same summer in Washington, D.C. Local Washington radio personality Don “Cerphe” Colwell can be heard leading the audience in a “F-E-A-T” spellout in between the first (“Join the Band”) and second (“Fat Man in the Bathtub”) tracks.

The band were backed by the Tower of Power horn section with whom they had recorded in previous studio sessions.[citation needed] The result was one of their biggest selling albums.

Many of their more well-known songs were either re-worked or extended. For instance, one of their signature songs, “Dixie Chicken”, was heavily extended to include a lengthy piano solo by keyboardist Bill Payne, a Dixieland horn arrangement and finally a dual guitar jam between the band’s two guitarists, Lowell George and Paul Barrere. In some cases, songs such as “Rocket In My Pocket” and “Mercenary Territory” were re-worked to include the horn section, and Little Feat additionally covered such tunes as “Don’t Bogart That Joint” and “On Your Way Down”. Former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor makes a guest appearance playing slide guitar on “A Apolitical Blues”.

The band recorded and mixed enough material from these performances for a triple LP, but for marketing reasons kept it to a double album. Three of the unused tracks were included on their 1981 album Hoy-Hoy!. All were eventually released on the 2002 “Deluxe edition” CD. (by wikipedia)

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Little Feat was one of the legendary live bands of the ’70s, showered with praise by not only their small, fiercely dedicated cult of fans, but such fellow musicians as Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, and Jimmy Page. Given all that acclaim, it only made sense for the group to cut a live album. Unfortunately, they waited until 1977, when the group had entered its decline, but as the double-album Waiting for Columbus proves, Little Feat in its decline was still pretty great. Certainly, the group is far more inspired on stage than they were in the studio after 1975 – just compare “All That You Dream,” “Oh Atlanta,” “Old Folks’ Boogie,” “Time Loves a Hero,” and “Mercenary Territory” here to the cuts on The Last Record Album and Time Loves a Hero. The versions on Waiting are full-bodied and fully-realized, putting the studio cuts to shame. Early classics like “Fat Man in the Bathtub” and “Tripe Face Boogie” aren’t as revelatory, but it’s still a pleasure to hear a great band run through their best songs, stretching them out and finding new quirks within them. If there are any flaws with Waiting for Columbus, it’s that the Feat do a little bit too much stretching, veering toward excessive jamming on occasion – and that mildly fuzzy focus is really the only way you’d be able to tell that this is a great live band recorded slightly after their prime. Even so, there’s much to savor on Waiting for Columbus, one of the great live albums of its era, thanks to rich performances that prove Little Feat were one of the great live bands of their time. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

This is the deluxe edition from 2002.

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Personnel:
Paul Barrere (guitar, vocals)
Sam Clayton (percussion, vocals)
Lowell George (vocals, guitar)
Kenny Gradney (bass)
Richard Hayward (drums, vocals)
Bill Payne (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals)
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Michael McDonald (background vocals on 26.)
Patrick Simmons (background vocals on 26.)
Mick Taylor (slide guitar on 15.)
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The Tower of Power horn section:
Greg Adams (trumpet)
Emilio Castillo (saxophone)
Mic Gillette (trombone, trumpet)
Stephen “Doc” Kupka (saxophone)
Lenny Pickett (saxophone, clarinet on 06.)

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Tracklist:

The original album:
01. Join The Band (Traditional)  1,54
02. Fat Man In The Bathtub (George) 4.54
03. All That You Dream (Payne/Barrere) 4.29
04. Oh Atlanta (Payne) 4.20
05. Old Folk’s Boogie (G.Barrere/P.Barrere) 4.27
06. Dixie Chicken (George/Kibbee) 8.58
07. Tripe Face Boogie (Payne/Hayward) 7.10
08. Rocket In My Pocket (George) 3.58
09. Time Loves A Hero (Payne/Gradney/Barrere) 4.20
10. Day Or Night (Payne/Tate) 5.31
11. Mercenary Territory (E.George/L.George/Hayward) 4.37
12. Spanish Moon (George) 5.36
13. Willin’ (George) 4.42
14. Don’t Bogart That Joint (Ingber/Wagner) 1.02
15. A Apolitical Blues (George) 3.51
16. Sailin’ Shoes (George)
17. Feats Don’t Fail Me Now (George/Kibbee/Barrere) 5.35
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Previously unissued outtakes:
18. One Love Stand (Payne/Gradney/Barrere) 4.27
19. Rock And Roll Doctor (George/Kibbee) 4.17
20. Skin It Back (Barrere) 5.40
21. On Your Way Down (Toussaint) 6.26
22. Walkin All Night (Payne/Barrere) 4.13
23. Cold, Cold, Cold (George) 5:19
24. Day At The Dog Races (Payne/Gradney/Barrere/Hayward/Clayton) 12.12
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Outtakes first issued on “Hoy-Hoy!”:
25. Skin It Back (Barrere) 4.41
26. Red Streamliner (Payne/Tate) 5.00
27. Teenage Nervous Breakdown (George) 4.12

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