Little Feat
" Skin It Back "
Eagle Vision

Blueswax 9
Rating 8

All that you dreamed for, and more, (11/25/09)

There's the original configuration of Little Feat and several variations of the more recent lineup, but captured here is the classic lineup with ringleader Lowell George in the fold, along with Paul Barrere, Bill Payne, Kenny Gradney, Richie Hayward, and Sam Clayton. What a band they were! A definitive mix of Southern R&B, Blues-rock, and country that made their music irresistible and unique. Bassist Gradney and percussionist Sammy Clayton originally from the Crescent City obviously influenced the entire band with their NOLA funk inflections, and Paul Barrere was an important add that truly rounded out this mighty band. Unfortunately, this recording was Feat's final tour, as in '79 Lowell George disbanded the group, and proceeded with his own new band with (mostly) different musicians, and made just one solo album Thanks I'll Eat It Here, with Feat's Bill Payne and Richie Hayward, plus Bonnie Raitt, and top-shelf studio cats Jim Gordon, Nicky Hopkins, Dean Parks, J.D. Souther, Jeff Porcaro, and Jim Keltner. George hit the road with his new unit, and after just a couple of weeks died of a heart attack. I was fortunate to have seen Little Feat (with Tower of Power horns) and Lowell's solo band. Both performances were quite memorable and filled with amazing musicianship, making this Skin It Back a special addition to one's music library. To my knowledge, this might be the only Lowell George video available, though this concert footage has been previously released as Little Feat Rockpalast Live with one additional tune "Cold, Cold, Cold," but does not have the rehearsal sound check portion that's included on Skin It Back.

Filmed for the German TV show Rockpalast, (translates to Rock Palace venue), it was part of a five hour weekly German TV show (also simulcast on radio) that was also aired in Austria, Norway, Sweden, and Ireland.

All the concert performances are tight and strong, starting with the chugging "Skin it Back" with Barrere on vocals. It is dual guitar dueling heaven that percussively segues into "Fat Man In the Bathtub (with the Blues)" where Lowell's vocals are in full throttle. Bill Payne's keys kick off "Oh, Atlanta" and shows off the vocal prowess of each and every member including a cigarette smoking George and more intense double guitar work.

Lowell leaves the stage for the fusion'ish instrumental "Day at the Dog Races," which serves as solid workout for the remaining band that's reminiscent of Feat's contributions on Chico Hamilton's The Master on Stax, which is highly recommended. "All That You Dream" was in fact authored by Barrere and Payne, but it's sung by George and features a nice instrumental lead-in. If there's a weak track, it's Barrere's "Old Folks Boogie," that gets interesting when George encourages Barrere to dig down with a truly fine guitar solo.

One of Feat's anthems "Dixie Chicken" follows with Payne signature piano work and a delightful dual guitar segment by Barrere and George. This "Dixie Chicken" take is excellent, yet far different than the version they (days later) recorded live with the Tower of Power horn section that appeared on Waiting For Columbus. But it's similar in that it also flows into a frantic "Tripe Face Boogie" which concludes with a blistering slide guitar solo by Lowell. "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" has a guitar-less George singing his way into the audience and turns itself into a sweet a cappella sing-along with every member of the band. George switches to an acoustic guitar on "Willin'," "From Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonapah" what a lyric, that also includes; "Weed, Whites, and Wine." Remember? Lowell's "Rocket in My Pocket" closes the live set in dramatic rip-snorting fashion, climaxing with a killing slide solo by the sorely missed Mr. George.

The "bonus" rehearsal tracks weigh in at about twenty-seven minutes and were shot the day prior to Feat's first ever television appearance that's included here. Things start slowly and loosely (without Lowell,) on an uneventful "Old Folks Boogie," but the band becomes more focused when George appears on "Fat Man in the Bathtub" where it's quite evident who's in charge. Lowell George directs with his strong presence and demeanor. "Rock N' Roll Doctor" is practiced at a slow pace, but interestingly it's the only rehearsal song that did not make its way into the live performance. The next segment fades in during the instrumental portion of "Skin It Back" where the band is finally firing with a lot more intensity, especially during the segue into yet another rehearsal take on "Fat Man In the Bathtub" which now feels like a concert. More high speed antics evolve with "Oh, Atlanta" where the band is flying, and their confidence is emboldened as they seem ready for their gig. Barrere and George really tear it up here! "Willin'" is probably what you'd expect it to be and abruptly concludes when Lowell declares "I quit."

So there you have it, a nice slice of nostalgia from a band that was captured at the height of their career. Yet as too many rock and roll stories go, this edition of Little Feat was about to crash which makes owning this DVD a treasure as we get to enjoy Little Feat in its classic lineup, and we get to see these master craftsmen (especially the very underrated, and almost forgotten Lowell George) get on down! Not sure why "Cold, Cold, Cold" was omitted as the DVD had room to spare at ninety-seven minutes. But I ain't "Willin'" (no pun intended) to lay out the big bucks that Little Feat Rockpalast Live DVD version is selling for just for one track. No matter, you will enjoy this DVD, as (considering its thirty-two year age) the video is surprisingly clear and fresh, and the audio is rich and crispy!

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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