CD Review – Little Feat “Rooster Rag”
Incredibly it’s been a full nine years since the last album of new original material from Little Feat. Admittedly they followed 2003’s ‘Kickin’ at the Barn’ with ‘Join The Band’ in 2008 but that was something of a stop gap being a trawl through their back catalogue with a host of guest vocalists and musicians. Now they’ve released ‘Rooster Rag’ which features mainly original songs and happens to be the first album with new drummer Gabe Ford who replaced Richie Hayward following his death two years ago.
I happen to be one of the many who believe that Little Feat were at their best during the ten year period (1969-1979) that Lowell George fronted the band. Since then their output has been somewhat patchy but I believe this new album is something of a return to form. With only Bill Payne surviving from the original 1969 line up and Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton surviving since 1972, the trademark Little Feat sound remains intact. Additionally I should add that Fred Tackett remains present from the 1987 line up and on this album he adds some very fine mandolin, slide guitar and trumpet.
It has always been hard to categorise the music of Little Feat as they freely switch between blues, boogie, jazz-funk, country and good old rock’n’roll. This album is no exception with Mississippi John Hurt’s ‘Candy Man Blues’ getting things off to a rollicking boogie-woogie start. This is quickly followed by the bluegrass style title track. And so it goes on.
The sensual ‘Church Falling Down’ features lush mandolin and spooky organ and vocals aside could almost be mistaken for a recent offering by Dr John. ‘One Breath At A Time’ seems to hark back to ‘Rock and Roll Doctor’ from 1974’s ‘Feats Don’t Fail Me Now’ and one could be forgiven for thinking that it and ‘Salome’ were out-takes from the 1970’s line-up.
I know I’m making a bold statement by daring to make comparisons with the Lowell George incarnation of the band but I really do think that with this album, Little Feat have come very close to producing another great album. Not quite up to the standard of the 70’s material but not far off.
It’s been a long time coming but it’s been worth the wait.