Little 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 re-formed Little Feat in 1987 and the band has remained active to the present.
Over its 50-year history, the band’s music has remained an eclectic blend of swamp pop, rock and roll, blues, boogie, country, folk, blues rock, soul, New Orleans R&B and swamp rock influences..
Guitarist Jimmy Page stated Little Feat was his favorite American band in a 1975 Rolling Stone interview.
Sailin’ Shoes is the second studio album by the American rock band Little Feat, released in 1972.
Little Feat’s sophomore effort, the Ted Templeman produced Sailin’ Shoes marked a shift from the sound of the band’s first album, Little Feat, to that of their next album, Dixie Chicken. It also introduced the cover artwork of Neon Park to the group, and was the last album appearance of original bassist Roy Estrada.
Highlighted by a reworked group version of “Willin'”, it also featured such enduring tracks as “A Apolitical Blues,” “Easy to Slip” and the title track, all by guitarist and lead vocalist Lowell George, the second co-written with Martin Kibbee, credited as “Fred Martin”, a former bandmate from The Factory, and the first appearance of the “George/Martin” credit on a Little Feat record.
The track “Texas Rose Cafe” is a tribute to a post-Houston concert visit by Lowell George and others to the hippie restaurant/club/beer garden. During refreshments upstairs George had said that he liked the place so much that he was going to write a song about it and it would be on their next album. It turned out to be true and not just so much “beer talk”.
It was the last full Little Feat record to be produced by an outsider until 1977’s Time Loves a Hero, with each of the three interim albums being produced almost entirely by Lowell George.
Noted Los Angeles-based session percussionist Milt Holland played percussion on “Easy to Slip” and “Trouble” and he also played tabla on the follow-up album Dixie Chicken. Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels played rhythm guitar on “A Apolitical Blues” and Debbie Lindsey provided the female vocals on “Cold, Cold, Cold” and the title track.
In 1972 Van Dyke Parks covered “Sailin’ Shoes” on his album Discover America, while in 1973, the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth covered “Teenage Nervous Breakdown” on their album Loud ‘n’ Proud.
In 1974 backed by The Meters and Lowell George, Robert Palmer covered “Sailin’ Shoes” on his debut solo album Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.
In 1988 Van Halen recorded a cover of “A Apolitical Blues” on their album, OU812, although the song is not included on some cassette and some original vinyl copies of the album.
It was voted number 469 in the third edition of Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).
With his design for a “sailing shoe” of a cake swinging on a tree swing, the album’s front cover by Neon Park seems to be an allusion to The Swing by painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Park himself said of the cover: “The Sailin’ Shoes cover was inspired by Louis XIV. I’d just seen Rossellini’s film about Louis XIV. And it seemed to relate a lot to Hollywood. A situation ruled by someone who kept everybody under his thumb by keeping them in hock from buying fancy clothes seemed to relate to Hollywood somehow. Actually, the only thing that was missing was the Hollywood sign, which I was going to put in the background. I thought that would be gauche. But I had a chance to pick up on that later with The Last Record Album.”
The cover design also includes a giant snail and Mick Jagger dressed as Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy – Park had been inspired by the film Performance. (wikipedia)
Little Feat’s debut may have been a great album but it sold so poorly, they had to either broaden their audience or, in all likelihood, they’d be dropped from Warner. So, Sailin’ Shoes is a consciously different record from its predecessor – less raw and bluesy, blessed with a varied production and catchier songs. That still doesn’t make it a pop record, since Little Feat, particularly in its first incarnation, was simply too idiosyncratic, earthy and strange for that. It is, however, an utterly thrilling, individual blend of pop, rock, blues and country, due in no small part to a stellar set of songs from Lowell George. If anything, his quirks are all the more apparent here than they were on the debut, since Ted Templeman’s production lends each song its own character, plus his pen was getting sharper.
George truly finds his voice on this record, with each of his contributions sparkling with off-kilter humor, friendly surreal imagery and humanity, and he demonstrates he can authoritatively write anything from full-throttle rock & roll (“Teenage Nervous Breakdown”), sweet ballads (“Trouble,” a sublimely reworked “Willin'”), skewered folk (“Sailin’ Shoes”), paranoid rock (“Cold, Cold, Cold”) and blues (“A Apolitical Blues”) and, yes, even hooky mainstream rock (“Easy to Slip,” which should have been the hit the band intended it to be). That’s not to discount the contributions of the other members, particularly Bill Payne and Richie Hayward’s “Tripe Face Boogie,” which is justifiably one of the band’s standards, but the thing that truly stuns on Sailin’ Shoes is George’s songwriting and how the band brings it to a full, colorful life. Nobody could master the twists and turns within George’s songs better than Little Feat, and both the songwriter and his band are in prime form here. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
Roy Estrada (bass, background vocals)
Lowell George – guitar, vocals, harmonica, saxophone, drum machine)
Richie Hayward (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Bill Payne (keyboards, accordion, vocals on 10., background vocals)
Ron Elliott (guitar on 06.)
Milt Holland (percussion on 01. + 03.)
Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel guitar on 05. + 11.)
Debbie Lindsey (background vocals on 02. + 07.)
01. Easy To Slip (George/Martin) 3.23
02. Cold, Cold, Cold (George) 4.01
03. Trouble (George) 2.19
04. Tripe Face Boogie (Hayward/Payne) 3.16
05. Willin’ (George) 2.58
06. A Apolitical Blues (George) 3.28
07. Sailin’ Shoes (George) 2.53
08. Teenage Nervous Breakdown (George) 2.14
09. Got No Shadow (Payne) 5.09
10. Cat Fever (Payne) 4.37
11. Texas Rose Café (George) 3.43