Having been a fan of this group since their early days, I always enjoyed their live gigs equally as much as their studio recordings. Something about playing in front of an audience that loves what you’re doing gives it an extra boost, and this one of those times.
Getting started in the late 1960s and hitting their stride in the early 70s, Little Feat were the epitome (to me) of the straight-ahead, no frills, no pretense of what Rock n’ Roll was all about. Founded by Lowell George, and made up largely of ex-members of The Mothers Of Invention, Little Feat were a cut above a lot of bands at the time. They brought a high level of musical ability and virtuosity to a scene that was undergoing direction changes, and in doing so carved out a niche and created an enduring legacy as the result.
In 1973, Payne, Gradney, Barrere, Clayton and George (incorrectly credited as George Lowell) collaborated with jazz drummer Chico Hamilton on his Stax album Chico the Master, which is a strong showcase for the band’s leanings toward funk and R&B. In 1973, around the time of this concert, Little Feat backed Kathy Dalton on her Amazing album on the DiscReet label produced by Warner Brothers. In 1974 Lowell George, along with the Meters and other session musicians, backed Robert Palmer on his Island Records debut solo release Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley which opened with George’s “Sailing Shoes.” The whole band chipped in on Palmer’s 1975 release, Pressure Drop, which contained another George composition, “Trouble.” 1976’s Some People Can Do What They Like, his third opus, opened with the Bill Payne/Fran Tate composition “One Last Look,” and later featured Lowell’s “Spanish Moon,” although George and Gradney sat this one out. In March 1976, Little Feat served as the backing band on the first side of Akiko Yano’s debut studio album Japanese Girl [ja], released on the Philips label. The band remained based in Los Angeles due to doing session work on the side in addition to band activities.
Split up in 1979 and reformed in 1987, they are still around, but with a lot of personnel changes (not to mention the passing of Lowell George shortly after the initial break up), Little Feat are as much an institution now as they ever were. But it’s a kick to hear them in the early days when they were exploring new territory and we were going along for the ride.
Some things just don’t get old, and never will.
- Lowell George & the Factory – ‘Lightning Rod Man’ (1966) (doggoneblog.com)