Number 30 on my countdown of Top 40 Albums is Feats, Don’t Fail Me Now by Little Feat. This album can only be described by a word I hate to say out loud: funky. Little Feat continued to delve deeper and deeper into polished funk with this record creating more distance from their earlier raw country/southern rock sound. Maybe it’s just me, but for me, it works. This record is an absolute blast.
Built on the foundation of a smooth rhythm section with cool-driving bass grooves, this album provides a 35 minute head-bobbing/shoulder-dancing experience filled with excellent guitar work (slide and otherwise) and a surprising amount of subtlety in layering including background vocals as well as the often unappreciated keyboard work of Bill Payne. However, the layering, the focused funky sound, and the brilliant guitar work can be attributed to the backbone of Little Feat, Lowell George. Certainly, Bill Payne and Paul Barrère were integral cogs in the Little Feat machine by the release of this album. Even so, one would have difficulty arguing against George’s importance to the group both as creative inspiration and in his focus as a producer. Not to mention that he is unarguably one of the greatest and most influential slide guitarists in rock music. That being said, Bill Payne is one of my favorite rock keyboardists. He has the unique ability to provide the exact keyboard work that a song needs, whether that be a tinkling country-style piano, a funky organ groove, or even more classically influenced playing. What I’m trying to say is, when you put all of the pieces together under the direction Lowell George, you get good music.
Case in point, the third track off Feats, Don’t Fail Me Now entitled “Skin it Back.”
No doubt this song has the funk factor turned up. What really draws me to Little Feat is their harmonic creativity within what is a pretty straight-forward funk/rock presentation. “Skin it Back” really shows of the subtlety in layering of the record including the descending chromatic bass line that adds just a twinge of darkness to the track as well as Payne’s excellent Hammond organ bits spread throughout the track in just the right spots. And, of course that fantastic hook where the guitar and keyboard double the melody. Oh. Just fantastic.
Really, every song on this record is a testament to their incredibly honed and beautifully layered funk/rock, but one that is off the charts funky is track five, “Spanish Moon.”
Mmm. That is… just… so much… funk… gotta… GET…… PSYCHED!!!!!!!!!!!
One last thing for Feats, Don’t Fail Me Now. It is, hopefully, implied that you really should purchase the entire record when I make these blog posts, but if you don’t I like to at least introduce you to a few songs that really define the music. I don’t usually do this, but I am going to charge you to seek out one of the songs on this record if you aren’t going to purchase the entire thing-even after hearing those two beauties! The closing track on the record is called “Medley: Cold Cold Cold/Tripe Face Boogie.” This songs is a ten minute mash-up of two previously recorded Little Feat songs. However, even if you had heard the prior recordings of these two songs, this track would still blow you away. Cold Cold Cold is basically re-invented from the ground up into a much more successful song. Additionally, there is a keyboard interlude that invokes shades of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Not to mention one of the absolute best slide guitar solos of all time. I strongly encourage you: listen to it! “Medley: Cold Cold Cold/Tripe Face Boogie,” the closing track on Feats, Don’t Fail Me Now.
So, this is my eleventh installment in my Top 40. I am a couple weeks behind, but I should catch up presently. I know a lot of my reading traffic is not weekly readers, but folks who got here via Google, etc. From this point on, I will be providing links to my prior posts on my Top 40 albums countdown for your ease in case you spot another album you would like to read about! The following is the list of 31-40 on my countdown.
Thanks for reading! You can look for a new post from me on Wednesday that will include number 29 on the countdown! Things are getting serious now! Have an excellent few days, everybody!