Classic Rock Corner

A Timely Reminder What a Great Band Little Feat Was

Little Feat: Live in Holland 1976 Eagle Vision (CD/DVD), 54 min., $17.98.

Is there any other band in classic rock who maintained a larger gulf between their studio and live work than Little Feat?

Don't get me wrong, albums like Sailin' Shoes, Dixie Chicken, Feats Don't Fail Me Now and Time Loves a Hero have a lot of quality material from the critically-popular act. But it's no fluke that their most commercially successful record, and the one to have if you only have one, is 1977's double live disc Waiting for Columbus.

Onstage, the sextet's potent gumbo of rock, blues, country and jazz was at its peak simply incendiary and ass-shaking. A tribute to both the skill of the individual players -- singer/guitarists Lowell George and Paul Barrere, keyboardist Billy Payne, bassist Kenny Gradney, and drummer/percussionists Richie Hayward and Sam Clayton -- as well as their cohesiveness as a unit.

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Unfortunately, leader George estrangement from the band and descent into substance abuse would lead to his death in 1979. But this set from the 1976 PinkPop Festival shows the band in its prime with an engaged and commanding George as a bearded, cowboy-hatted ringmaster.

In fact, the difference in both his sound and performance quality between this show and Eagle Vision's previous DVD Skin It Back - from a show just the next year - is telling.

This concert's nine songs include prime takes on "Skin it Back" and "Dixie Chicken," both with Barrere's fiery shredding, while George's own guitar rings powerfully on the heavily-grooving "Tripe Face Boogie." The last including a line paying tribute to the "Houston Welcoming Committee" of groupies who, um, warmly welcome the band on early tours.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero