The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Little Feat’ Category

Review: Little Feat, “Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990”

with 5 comments

Little Feat - Complete WB“Well they say that time loves a hero/But only time will tell/If he`s real he`s a legend from heaven/If he ain`t he was sent here from hell…”  Though Little Feat’s singer-songwriter-guitarist Lowell George wasn’t among the writers of the song “Time Loves a Hero” from the band’s 1977 album of the same name, the lyric might well describe him.  Time has, indeed, told: almost 35 years after George’s death in June 1979, his legacy still resonates as does that of the band which he founded.  Yet during its first lifetime, Little Feat never scored a hit record.  One critic, in 1977, noted that the band was “still slogging around the country playing 3,000-seat arenas” despite praise from Led Zeppelin and The Marshall Tucker Band, not to mention The Rolling Stones.  Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, Linda Ronstadt and Phish have all celebrated Little Feat.  So why was Little Feat destined to remain a band’s band (as Buffett described them) or even a cult band rather than, say, a people’s band?  One definitive answer will likely remain elusive.  But the journey of discovery has never been as easily accessible as it is now, thanks to Rhino’s release of Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990.

This new 13-CD box set includes Little Feat’s first ten core albums, the 2002 expanded edition of the acclaimed 1978 live album Waiting for Columbus, and a bonus disc of rarities from the now out-of-print 2000 box set Hotcakes and Outtakes.  It spans the entire original run of Feat (1971-1979) as well as the first two albums from the regrouped unit circa 1988-1990.  Over the years, Feat endured a couple of key personnel changes.  Bassist Roy Estrada, who founded the group with his fellow Mother of Invention alumnus Lowell George as well as drummer Richie Hayward and keyboardist Bill Payne, was featured on just two albums.  The group briefly disbanded after those first two records, but once its members reconvened sans Estrada, the roster remained consistent from 1972-1979, with Hayward, Payne and George joined by bassist Kenny Gradney, guitarist Paul Barrere, and percussionist Sam Clayton.  When Little Feat reformed in 1988, its surviving members Hayward, Payne, Barrere, Gradney and Clayton enlisted vocalist Craig Fuller and guitarist Fred Tackett to round out the line-up.  But what remained the same was the group’s singular brand of good-time boogie.

Southern rock by way of southern California, Little Feat’s sound encompassed rhythm and blues, rock, country, jazz and funk, led by George’s distinctive slide guitar.  Other groups incorporated many of those influences, and the band was sometimes lumped in with the SoCal rock of Jackson Browne, the Eagles or Linda Ronstadt.  The latter was a friend of George’s, and no doubt fattened his bankbook when she included “Willin’” on her chart-topping 1975 album Heart Like a Wheel.  Of course, his truckers’ anthem to the pleasures of “weeds, whites and wine” wasn’t likely to follow “You’re No Good” and “When Will I Be Loved” to the top spots on the Billboard survey.

If George’s edgy, idiosyncratic, somewhat off-kilter lyrics didn’t augur for the band’s commercial fortunes, the group was lucky to have a committed label in the artist-friendly Warner Bros. Records.  The development of, and changes to, Little Feat’s sound becomes apparent on Rad Gumbo.  Showcasing its tight quartet of musicians and the songs of George and Payne (individually and collectively), the 1971 Russ Titelman-produced debut Little Feat established the band’s blue-collar country-rock cred thanks to tracks like “Truck Stop Girl,” “Hamburger Midnight,” “Strawberry Flats” and the first version of future signature song “Willin’.”  Kirby Johnson’s orchestration also showed that the band was, um, willin’ to go out on a musical limb.  The next year’s Sailin’ Shoes continued in the country-rock vein of Little Feat, but George’s amusingly surreal songwriting had become even stronger and more focused.  Producer Ted Templeman smoothed out the rougher musical edges on key tracks like the shoulda-been-a-hit “Easy to Slip” and a definitively re-recorded “Willin’,” plus an assortment of ballads and blues.  George’s title track attracted the attention of another Warner Bros. iconoclast, Van Dyke Parks, who included it on his steel drum-flecked calypso album Discover America.

When the “new” band premiered on 1973’s Dixie Chicken, it was imbued with the rollicking, soulful spirit of New Orleans.  Now also in the producer’s chair, George continued as the dominant writer and lead vocalist in the band.  He album tipped his hat to one of the Crescent City’s finest with a smoking cover of Allen Toussaint’s “On the Way Down,” but Little Feat was on the way up.  The band’s musicianship was tighter than ever, allowing for jams and intricate interplay.  Future full-time member Fred Tackett (also a close collaborator of Jimmy Webb) provided his acoustic guitar on the LP, with background vocals supplied by Bonnie Raitt, Gloria Jones and Bonnie Bramlett.  The fiercely funky title track garnered cover versions from artists ranging from Jack Jones (yes, that Jack Jones) to, years later, Garth Brooks.  Dixie Chicken remains Little Feat’s crowning achievement, but the band continued to hone the style of the album on future releases.

There’s much more Gumbo after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 21, 2014 at 13:49

Posted in Box Sets, Little Feat, Reissues, Reviews

Tagged with

Release Round-Up: Week of March 4

leave a comment »

Little Feat boxLittle Feat, Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

The eclectic rock band’s near two-decade run on Warner Bros. is celebrated in this new box set, featuring all the band’s original studio albums, an expanded edition of the live Waiting for Columbus and a bonus disc of recordings sourced from the band’s 2000 box set Hotcakes & Outtakes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dr John - Gris GrisThe Grass Roots, The Complete Original Dunhill/ABC Hit Singles / Irma Thomas, Full Time Woman — The Lost Cotillion Album / Professor Longhair, The Last Mardi Gras / Dr. John, The Night Tripper, Gris Gris / David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended/Feelin’ Good / David Ruffin, David Ruffin/Me ‘N Rock ‘N Roll Are Here to Stay / Marilyn McCoo, Solid Gold (Expanded Edition) / Charley Pride, The Gospel Collection (Real Gone Music)

Real Gone’s March madness features a host of titles, including two Mardi Gras-themed offerings from two New Orleans legends: Dr. John’s first album and a double-disc live set from jazz pianist Professor Longhair.

The Grass Roots: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Irma Thomas: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Professor Longhair: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Dr. John: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #1: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #2: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn McCoo: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Charley Pride: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bob Dylan - 30th ConcertBob Dylan, The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Columbia/Legacy)

This multi-artist live tribute to The Bard, recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1992, is reissued as an expanded CD set as well as in a newly-restored DVD or Blu-Ray version with unreleased performances and behind-the-scenes footage.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
BD: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.

A Beard of Stars DeluxeT. Rex, A Beard of Stars T. Rex: Deluxe Editions (Universal U.K.)

Before Marc Bolan hit the sweet spot, 1970 saw him cutting two albums – the last credited to “Tyrannosaurus Rex” and the first credited to “T. Rex,” respectively – that saw him moving from psych-folk to the kind of music that made him a legend. Both albums are expanded with unreleased demos, outtakes and single material (including beloved glam cut “Ride a White Swan”).

A Beard of Stars: 2CD (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.) / 2LP (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)
T. Rex: 2CD (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.) / 2LP (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Rufus VibrateRufus Wainwright, Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright (DGC/Interscope/UMe)

A greatest-hits compilation from the theatrical singer-songwriter, son of fellow-renowned musician Loudon Wainwright III.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bob FrankBob Frank, Bob Frank / Peter Walker, “Second Poem to Kamela” or Gypsies Are Important (Light in the Attic)

Light in the Attic kicks off its new Vanguard Vault series exploring the “obscure, non-traditional side of the legendary Vanguard Records archive” with the 1972 self-titled album from Bob Frank (“the best songwriter you never heard” per Big Star producer Jim Dickinson) and the rare 1968 follow-up to Peter Walker’s mystical psych-folk Rainy Day Raga LP.

Bob Frank: LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Peter Walker: LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Heart Magazine SACDHeart, Magazine / Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter, Paul and Mary (Audio Fidelity)

New, Steve Hoffman-mastered editions of two classic titles on hybrid SACD.

Heart: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Peter, Paul and Mary: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 4, 2014 at 08:32

Feats Won’t Fail You Now on New Rhino Box Set

with 8 comments

Little Feat box

Rhino is giving the complete albums treatment to another classic rock artist on the Warner Bros. label: the eclectic combo Little FeatRad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 will feature all 11 studio and live albums the band cut for the label, as well as two additional bonus discs of rare material.

Formed by ex-Mothers of Invention guitarist Lowell George, Little Feat first rose to prominence for their killer rock-blues style, particularly both versions of the song “Willin'” from the band’s first two albums. (Each version featured a distinctive slide guitar part, the latter played by George and the former by Ry Cooder, filling in for George after a model airplane accident hurt his hand.) It was notably covered by Linda Ronstadt on Heart Like a Wheel in 1974.

Lineup changes in 1972 – bassist Roy Estrada was replaced by Kenny Gradney and guitarist Paul Barrere and percussionist Sam Clayton were added to the existing lineup with George, keyboardist Bill Payne and drummer Richie Hayward – led to an interesting stylistic shift: albums Dixie Chicken and Feats Don’t Fail Me Now were decidedly funkier, with heavy influences from New Orleans-style jazz. Collaborations with drummer Chico Hamilton and singer Robert Palmer would follow (Palmer covered their “Sailin’ Shoes” and the band backed him on many of his early records).

But tragedy struck at the end of the decade when George died of a heart attack bought on by overindulgence. An album, Down on the Farm, was completed in 1979, and Hoy-Hoy!, a collection of outtakes and alternates, was released two years later. All was not over, though: in 1987, the band reformed with singer/songwriter/guitarist Craig Fuller and guitarist Fred Tackett. Resultant album Let It Roll and single “Hate to Lose Your Lovin'” were considerable hits. The band departed Warner Bros. in 1990, and Fuller himself would leave in 1993, but Barrere, Gradney, Tackett and Clayton (plus Gabe Ward on drums, following Hayward’s 2010 passing) continue to tour and record under the Little Feat banner, releasing Rooster Rag, their 15th album, in 2012.

Rad Gumbo features, in addition to all of the band’s studio albums (Little Feat (1971) to Representing the Mambo (1980)) and Hoy-Hoy!, the double-disc 2002 expanded edition of George-era live album Waiting for Columbus (featuring the complete, reordered album program on Disc 1 and Disc 2, followed by performances mixed for possible album release but ultimately unused and outtakes later issued on Hoy-Hoy!) and a bonus disc of tracks released on the 2000 box set Hotcakes & Outtakes (we’re waiting on official confirmation from Rhino as to which tracks feature on this disc).

Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 is available February 25. Hit the jump for order links and all the info we have thus far!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 16, 2014 at 11:31

Still Willin’: Edsel Reissues A Pair From Little Feat

with 3 comments

Though the band formed in 1970 and found a home on Burbank’s famed Warner Bros. label with a debut album produced by L.A. stalwart Russ Titelman, Little Feat always stood apart from its California rock brethren.  Still, the blues/rock/funk outfit attracted the attention of some important members of the Laurel Canyon crowd.  “Willin’,” written by Feat’s de facto leader and chief songwriter Lowell George, found a home on Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel album.  The song was reportedly despised by the notoriously anti-drug Frank Zappa, George’s former employer, for its celebration of “weed, whites and wine,” and it may actually have led to George’s departure from Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.  But once Lowell George formed Little Feat with Richard Heyward, Bill Payne and Roy Estrada, he pursued a singular musical path incorporating strains of Southern rock, boogie-woogie, greasy funk, R&B, folk and even jazz.  Lowell George died in June 1979, aged just 34, the victim of a heart attack likely related to drug abuse.  He left behind a great legacy, however, and the Edsel label is celebrating that legacy with a 2-CD set collecting George’s final two albums with the band he founded.

Time Loves a Hero/Down on the Farm includes the 1977 and 1979 studio albums that marked the end of Little Feat until the band regrouped with some new personnel in 1988.  Both were recorded by the lineup of George (who died before Down on the Farm could be completed), Hayward, Payne, percussionist Sam Clayton, guitarist Paul Barrere and bassist Kenny Gradney.  (Clayton, Barrere and Gradney all joined the band as of its third LP, 1973’s Dixie Chicken.)  Time Loves a Hero was produced by Ted Templeman, who had helmed the band’s second album.  By the time he returned to the Feat fold, he was flush with the success of the Doobie Brothers, who made a guest appearance on the album.  Though Templeman’s undeniably slick sound is present, and Nick DeCaro contributes subtle string arrangements, the album is filled with diverse sounds typical of Feat.

Paul Barrere stepped up to the plate as the primary songwriter, with George on the sidelines.  The guitars-meets-brass of “Hi Roller” contrasts with the fusion jazz-influenced jam session that is “Day at the Dog Races,” while “Old Folks Boogie” (co-written by Paul and Gabriel Barrere) is straightforward R&B/funk. “Missin’ You” is a tender acoustic country ballad.  The Doobies, with Michael McDonald a prominent voice, show up on Bill Payne and Fran Tate’s “Red Streamliner,” and threaten to steal the song.  Lowell George’s only solo composition on the album is “Rocket in My Pocket,” not a rockabilly song as the title might suggest but rather another return to funky Feat form.

The Payne/Barrere/Gradney title song could have been written about George from today’s vantage point:  “Well, they say time loves a hero/But only time will tell/If he’s real, he’s a legend from heaven/If he ain’t, he was sent here from hell.”  Indeed, George raised a lot of hell but delivered music straight from heaven.

Hit the jump to head Down on the Farm, plus full track listings and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 10, 2012 at 14:45

Posted in Little Feat, News, Reissues

Sit Down I Think It’s Van Dyke Parks: Music Man’s “Arrangements” Arrive on CD

leave a comment »

Forgive the hyperbole, but there’s nobody quite like Van Dyke Parks.  Composer, arranger, producer, singer, musician, actor, author, raconteur, Parks is one-of-a-kind.  Known for his dazzling, sometimes oblique wordplay, and sheer musical invention, Parks has contributed production, arrangements and songs to an incredible number of renowned artists over the years, often blazing new trails while harnessing his vast knowledge of popular music.  For the first time, the renaissance man’s work as a multi-hyphenate is being collected.  Fifteen tracks are being compiled for September 20 release by the artist’s own label, Bananastan, as Arrangements, Volume 1.

Arrangements is drawn primarily from the catalogue of Warner Bros./Reprise, where Parks toiled as artist, producer, arranger and A&R man, often working closely with his good friend Lenny Waronker.  While at Warner Bros., Parks lent his considerable skills to Randy Newman, The Beau Brummels, The Mojo Men, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, and others.  Still, these names just scratch the surface.  Consider some of his other musical cohorts: The Byrds, Tim Buckley, Harry Nilsson, U2, The Everly Brothers, Carly Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, and Cher.  Parks’ work isn’t exclusive, though, to classic artists.  He’s lent his expertise to a younger generation of musicians including Rufus Wainwright, Joanna Newsom, Silverchair, Inara George and Fiona Apple.

Did I forget something?  Oh, yeah.  Parks also was the co-architect of The Beach Boys’ SMiLE, playing lyrical foil and inspiration to Brian Wilson’s limitlessly creative composer.  (Though Capitol Records has been quiet in recent months, plans are still afoot to finally release that legendary lost album later this year.)  Though Arrangements spotlights some of his favorite collaborations, Parks has also included a number of his own performances, making a collection of material, both familiar and tantalizingly rare, that is a veritable tour of American music.  (The emphasis, however, is not on cuts from Parks’ solo albums, but rather singles and rarities.  Anybody who’s read this far shouldn’t hesitate to explore 1968’s Song Cycle – in many ways a further exploration of the modular songwriting employed on SMiLE – and his other offbeat solo confections for some of the wildest, most devilishly creative music out there.)

Hit the jump to find out just which Arrangements have been included, plus discography and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 3, 2011 at 09:12