Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Little Feat - Little Feat

Little Feat


Released 1971 on Warner Brothers
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 03/10/2000ce


I know what you're thinking LITTLE FEAT! C'mon Dave they're boring hippie rubbish right? WRONG! at least in 1970 they weren't. Now I admit Little Feat are responsible for committing some serious crimes against humanity with their awful mid 70's albums like the truly wretched "Time Loves A Hero". But listen in 1970 they were the American Rolling Stones and I'm being serious, and their debut album is the most vivid example of Real America since The Band's "Music From Big Pink".

Little Feat leader Lowell George had been in a fine garage group called The Factory (no not the "Path Through The Forest" bunch) George had also played with a later lineup of The Mothers Of Invention. After The Mothers split George and Mothers bassist Roy Estrada formed Little Feat with drummer Richie Hayward and a talented songwriter/keyboardist named Bill Payne.

Their debut album was issued in early 1971 and remains one of the 70's great lost classics. "Little Feat" to me sounds like it could have been both the followup to Captain Beefheart's "Safe As Milk" and The Rolling Stones' followup to "Let It Bleed". The record begins with a wicked rocker called "Snakes On Everything" which lyrically may be describing a bad Peyote trip, this track is a rousing opener which features some lethal bottleneck guitar by George and some great background vocals.

Next up is an absolute killer called "Strawberry Flats" which was issued as a 45 in 1970. This song is one of the most accurate portrayals of post-Manson paranoid America I've ever heard, dig these lyrics "knocked on my friend's door in Moody,Texas and asked if he had a place for me, his hair was cut off and he was wearing a suit and he said "not in my house,not in my house, you look like you're part of a conspiracy" Brilliant! had this song come out in 1969 it would have been a natural for the "Easy Rider" soundtrack.

"Truck Stop Girl" is next, this song was covered by The Byrds for their "Untitled" album, it's a sad desolate song that really makes you think of the American southwest. "Brides Of Jesus" is another haunting gospel rock song that is an instant classic, this one reminds me of the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, Bill Payne's organ is out of sight. "Willin'" is a fantastic truckin' song that was covered by many in the 70's and truly murdered by Linda Ronstadt, in fact her version almost ruined this song for me. "Hamburger Midnight" shifts gears back to a high energy Rolling Stones sound this song appeared on the flip to the "Strawberry Flats" 45.

Side Two begins with "Forty-Four Blues/How Many More Years" this one is pure Captain Beefheart circa "Mirror Man" the group really stretch out and blast along the way, George really captures the spirit of Howlin' Wolf's vocals almost as well as Beefheart. "Crack In Your Door" is another greasy rocker with some great Jerry Lee Lewis type piano and some more of George's lightning slide guitar.

"I've Been The One" is a pretty, downer sort of ballad that reminds me of The Byrds Clarence White. "Takin' My Time" is a knockout piano and strings ballad by Bill Payne he sings the beautiful lines "I'm takin' my time/so please don't push me/I gotta sort out some things I didn't know existed" Superb!.The record ends with a short good timer called "Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie" that rounds up the record nicely.

I'm still amazed this great record has not recieved more attention over the years, to my ears this group did this style of music as well as The Stones, in fact to me Little Feat sound much more authentic, you really get the impression these guys are traveling the US highways in a beat up station wagon while Mick Jagger is attending some wine and cheese gallery opening in Paris.


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