Little Feat

Band members                         Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-72)

- Roy Estrada -- bass, backing vocals

- Lowell George (RIP) -- vocals, guitar, harmonica

- Richie Hayward -- drums, backing vocals

- Bill Payne -- vocals, keyboards


  line up 2 (1972-79)

NEW - Paul Barrere -- lead guitar, vocals

NEW - Sam Clayton -- percussion

- Lowell George (RIP) -- vocals, guitar, harmonica

NEW - Kenny Gradney -- bass (replaced Roy Estrada)

- Richie Hayward -- drums, backing vocals

- Bill Payne -- vocals, keyboards


  line up 3 (1987-93)

- Paul Barrere -- lead guitar, vocals

- Sam Clayton -- percussion

NEW - Craig Fuller -- vocals, guitar (replaced Lowell George)

- Kenny Gradney -- bass (replaced Roy Estrada)

- Richie Hayward -- drums, backing vocals

- Bill Payne -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - Fred Tackett -- guitar, mandolin









Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Live At the Santa Monica Civic

Company: Toasted

Catalog: 2S 928
Year: 1980

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: double LP; Australian pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6265

Price: $60.00


Ah Little Feat - the band that encapsulates my 1970s college experience ...  All these years and I still forget how talented they were when at their prime.


Released by the Australian Toasted imprint, I'm guessing this double album live set was a bootleg, probably recorded directly off of a sound board.  The sound quality wasn't great, sounding kind of flat and one dimensional.  The other curiosity is that it sounded like they were playing before a very small and intimate audience (sure didn't sound like a large auditorium crowd), which may indicate these tracks were recorded during the pre-show warm-ups, or with the band in an opening slot before the bulk of the audience had shown up for the headliner acts.  Regardless, "Live At the Santa Monica Civic" went a long way to supporting the contention Little Feat was the best unknown band of the 1970s.  


Apparently recorded at a March 20, 1973 performance at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, the album captured what was essentially Little Feat Mark II - guitarist Paul Barrere, percussionist Sam Clayton, singer/lead guitarist Lowell George, bassist Kenny Gradney, drummer Richie Hayward, and keyboard player Bill Payne.  Out on the road promoting their forthcoming fourth studio release, 1974's "Feats Don't Fail Me Now", the live set was heavily focused on then new-product, including about half of the new studio set.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Two Trains', 'Fat Man In the Bathtub' and 'Oh Atlanta' the collection underscored the band's continuing interest in New Orleans-styled funk and unlike many of their contemporaries, these guys had the chops to pull it off.  George and Payne in particularly seemed to be at the top of their game, turning in one impressive performance after another.


- 'Rock and Roll Doctor' opened the album with a classic slice of Little Feat funk.  Every time I hear the song I remember what a talented guy he late Lowell George was ...   rating: **** stars

- Showcasing Clayton's percussion, George's slinky voice and slide guitar, and Hayward's keyboards, 'Two Trains' was one of the album's tour-de-force performances with the live version (even with the limited sound quality), simply killing the studio take.   rating: **** stars

- An indication of the direction they'd begin to pursue in the near future, 'When the Shit Hits the Fan'  found the band trying to meld funk with what was jazz-rock.  It had its moments, including George's extended guitar solo, but wasn't one of the standout performances.  As far as I can tell the track had not appeared on any of their studio albums.   rating: ** stars

- The band's cover of Allen Toussaint's ''On Your Way Down' ' was a  wonderful showcase for Lowell George.  The track had everything a song needed for massive success - great melody; nifty lyric, fantastic vocal, and some dazzling slide guitar.  Maybe a bit on the long side, but remember extended jams were all the rage in the mid-1970s.   rating: **** stars

- 'Oh Atlanta' has always been a personnel favorite and this version was every bit as good as the "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" studio version.  They even nailed the abrupt ending ...    rating: *** stars

- Anyone who doubted Little Feat could truly get funky needed only check out Kenny Gradney's bass work on the medley 'Spanish Moon / Skin It Back'.   'Skin It Back' showcased the strength of Barerre/Lowell guitar attack.  Yeah, the thought of a 50 year old man bouncing around the room probably isn't something most folks would want to contemplate, but this one can still get my old bones moving.   Little Feat at their collective prime ...  rating: ***** stars

- Another personal favorite, 'Fat Man In the Bathtub' would have made Allen Toussaint and The Meters proud.  Sheer New Orleans-flavored rock and roll paradise.  It also sported one of the band's most memorable melodies with Clayton's percussion and Payne's keyboards more prominent than on the studio original.     rating: **** stars

- Perhaps the band's best known song (and the track that reportedly got Lowell George kicked out of The Mothers of Invention for its references to drugs and alcohol), this version of 'Willin'' wasn't a major departure from the original - perhaps a tad more country and the kissing sound effect was goofy, but it didn't make much difference.  What a great song.    rating: ***** stars

- The instrumental 'Eldorado Slim' was one of  the collection's more interesting numbers.  As far as I can tell, the song was new in that it had not appeared on any of the band's first four studio sets.  Anyhow, I've always liked George's introduction to 'Eldorado Slim'... hippy chicks, tomatoes. puppies, and cocaine.  Sounds like the ingredients for a true mid-1970s rock and roll song and true enough this was one of the band's tougher rock oriented compositions, though it degenerated into an extended and rather loose jam session.    rating: *** stars

- Written by Payne, 'Got No Shadow' was a forgettable, extended jam.   rating: ** stars

- Not sure why 'When the Shit Hits the Fan' was listed again ...   Didn't change my comments on the song.   rating: ** stars

- 'Cold Cold Cold'

- One of the few songs that didn't benefit from the live setting, this version of 'Dixie Chicken' sounded sluggish and slightly uninspired.  The flat female backing singer didn't help the performance.  rating: ** stars

- Take the comments I made for 'Dixie Chicken' and apply them to 'Triple Face Boogie.'   The crowd apparently disagreed with me.   rating: ** stars

- 'Apolitical Blues' started with George recalling a hysterical New York encounter with 'Howlin' Wolf'.  The song itself was a pedestrian and rather forgettable slice of conventional blues-rock.  I guess every mid-1970s band had to prove their manhood with at least one slice of the blues.     rating: ** stars

- 'Chevy '39' ended the album on a high note with the band tearing through a taunt little rocker.  Payne stole the show with his barrelhouse piano.   Another one that I don't think appeared on one of the first four studio sets.     rating: *** stars


Yeah, it lacks the sonic sparkle of 1978's "Waiting for Columbus" and the third side definitely would have benefited from some judicious editing,  but stripping away some of the gloss showed what a monster band these guys were.   Well worth looking for. 


"Live At the Santa Monica Civic" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rock and Roll Doctor   (Lowell George) - 

2.) Two Trains   (Lowell George) - 

3.) When the Shit Hits the Fan

4.) On Your Way Down   (Allen Toussaint) - 


(side 2)
1.) Oh Atlanta   (Bill Payne) - 

2.) Spanish Moon / Skin It Back   (Lowell George / Paul Barrere) - 

3.) Fat Man In the Bathtub   (Lowell George) - 

4.) Willin'   (Lowell George) - 


(side 3)

1.) Eldorado Slim (instrumental) 

2.) Got No Shadow (instrumental)   (Bill Payne) - 

3.) When the Shit Hits the Fan


(side 4)

1.) Cold Cold Cold   (Lowell George) - 

2.) Dixie Chicken  (Lowell George - Fred Martin) - 

3.) Triple Face Boogie   (Bill Payne - Richie Hayward) - 

4.) Apolitical Blues   (Lowell George) - 

5.) Chevy '39   (Lowell George) -