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Little Feat - Album by Album - UNCUT Mag - Aug 2008

Little Feat - Album by Album - UNCUT Mag - Aug 2008

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Fired by Lowell George's sensual slide guitar, California's Little Feat forged their very own brand of American Music
Fired by Lowell George's sensual slide guitar, California's Little Feat forged their very own brand of American Music

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Lowell George's sensual slide uitar, California's Little Feat own brand of American music - eccentricall

~~~~~~~~~~~--~--

et roots and rockin . Here, ke boardist Bill Payne and

ist Paul Barrere take us throu h their brilliant back catalogue

Their debut record: the original four-piece (Lowell George, Bill Payne, Roy Estrada and Richie Hayward) tum in an eclectic set - equal parts Band, Burritos and Exilestyle Stones. The blackest white rock'n'roll to come out of Hollywood since Beefheart's first Magic Band.

Bill Payne: We wrote a buneh of songs and presented some to [AliatlliC/Qul1deralld Warner/abel boss]Ah met Ertegun, who said they were too diverse. So we went back to thcdrawingboardand wrote what was to be this rather eclectic record with "TJ'ucJ( Stop Girl", "Brides Of Jesus". the original version or"Willin"', and a Howlin' Wolf medley. The recordings were very eh aoti c. [Producer 1 Russ Titelman was one ofLowell's closest friends, but they couldn't get along and I was drawn into itand naturally I sided with Lowell. There wasafurther complication with the album because Lowell had injured his hand building a model plane.and so we enlisted Ry Cooder to play on that albu m. There were a lot ofi n fluences, whether that was The

Band or the FlyingBurrito Brothers, but we

didn't play like those guys and we were mixing

far too many metaphors for anybody in their

right mind to keep up with. Irnean, "Strawberry Flats" is not The Band; they would never have written chords like that.

Ultimately, we began todefine the voice of Little Feat, which is those rhythmic in fluences and our chordal influences and a disregard in general for hooks and choruses.

721 UNCUT I AUGUST 2008

[NTERVn~w 1J.V HARNEY ItIOS'Kl'NS

THE SURREAL SECOND COURSE

SAILIN' SHOES

(1972)WARNERBROS RECORDS PRODUCED BYTED TEMPLEMAN

By turns accessibly Californian and caustically hard-rocking, Fea.t's sophomore release was as sexy and drolly surreal as its bizarre Neon

: Parkcoverpainting ...

: Bill Payne; Sailin , Sboesis a fantastic record, : and I thinkfor acoupleofreasons. There's

: always something gained and something

lost when a group isgrowing, With this particular growth spurt, Lowell wanted to create something that was pitched down the middleoftheplate, In particular he tried to

do it with "Easy To Slip". The more outside influences that Ibrought to the table weren't so much shunned as just put to one side

while Lowell tried todo something more straight-ahead. The quirky stuff that people loved on the first album wasn't so much there, but was reintroduced as "Tripe Face Boogie" and that typeofthing,and that was [drummer]

: Richie Hayward and myself Lowellwas still very : much my mentor at the time, even though I was

: disappointed thatthe two of'us weren't writing

more together. I fully understood why he wanted toc1evatcthis thingtoanother level. And this was a Iso when we met 'eon Park, who had previously designed Zappa's Weasels

Ripped My Fiesb [Eslradaand Georgebad been parlo/Zappa'sMo/berso!ItIVelllian be/ore/arming Lilt/uFual). Our album covers definitely

helped to set us apart from the other LA bands of the time. There was an aspect of LittleFeat that was like the Groucho Marx

gag of not wanting to join any club that wanted us as members.

Little Feat were like that Groucho Marx gag - we didn't want to join any club that would have us as members ...

THE FINGER·UCKINJ GOOD STUFF

trrrt .. t-: "UT rII\If.f:lna.t-:N

DIXIE CHICKEN

{1973)WARNER BROS RECORDS. PRODUCED BYLOWELLGEORGE

Featuring an expanded six-man liIleup, the band's third album signalled a new immersion in New Orleans funk grooves

Paul Barrere: I'd known Lowell for years and had actua Ill' auditioned as the bassist when Little Featfirststarted. Hailed miserably but

I toldhim, "lfyoueverneeda second guitarist let me know." When Roy Estrada left (tojoin up again toitb Zappa], they decided to expand the band and Lowell came back to me. There was

a slight change of direction, more towa rds rhythm and blues, which had a lot to do with the additions of Sam [Clayton,percus.!i011isl]

and Kenny [Gradney. bas.!ist] from Delaney & Bonnie, and with my sensibility asa blues guitarist. Weputa bit moreswingintotheir shuffle, if you will. But by the same token. Lowell broadened my own horizons by

giving me country and pop records. He said, "You can write songs with more than three chords," andoutofthatcame "Skin It Back" and "All That You Dream". Allen Toussaint's "On Your Way Down", which we did at Clover studios on Santa Monica Boulevard, was the first major recording experience I had. And cowriting "Walkin' AllNight"withBillwasabig highlight: my first song credit and my firstiead

vocal! It was an exciting time fora23-year-old.

Bill Payne: Bringing in two blackguysliterally made us sound blacker, and Paulalsowasdeeperinto the

Six for Dixie: Hayward, George, Payne, KeDDY Gradney, Paul Barrera and Sam Clayton

: black side than I had been. With this collection of : musicians we shifted gears from that kind of

: southern-California(countrythingand stepped into : a different area thatwasaboutpultingourstampon

our blues and R'n'Binfluences, We were influencedatthatpointbyDrJohnand Professor Longhair, and then also to a degree by Van Dyke Parks through the veil of Randy

Newman. "DixieChicken"itselfhas the chords, the : verse, and a little bridge. but it's played in a New

: Orleansstylewhichdoesn'lhitlhezonethatwould : make ita hit record.

- - ---------~------------ - - ----------- ---------------~

, putiton the record, which I thought was brilliant.

Bill Payne, Themood atthatpointwasone of hope. We had achance toplayunencumberedand we had Bob Cavallo tothank for that. He had a sensitivity to the fact that we'd been smashed by the industry and by therealities ofkeeping a band together in an atmosphere where the money simply wasn't there. He moved usoutofLosAngeles, whichon a lot of levels was a distracting place to work. Ou r Over rid ing concern was how to put this bandon the map: how do we hitahigb gear with our-writing? And George Massenburg.ofcourse,wasoneofthemostadept engineers in theworld. There was a great feeling of freedom: under every rock you picked up there wouldbea little diamond - not the least of which was the birth of Lowell's daughter, Inara. With the recording, Lowell would literally splice a cassette together, and I would writeoutall the musicand

, teach it to the band. "Rock & Roll Doctor" was exceedingly quirky: I've never heard anythinglikeit

, in my life, other than "Cold, Cold, Cold". Feats Don 't FailMeNow was much closer to the way we played live. There was more energy involved, and Lowell was really coming intohisownas a vocalist. taking morechancesand having morefun than I'd ever seen him have before.

Many people say he was a genius slide player, but to me his genius was his phrasing, not only in hisplayingbut in his singing. Thiswasa time where we were all walking as one, and it was a wonderful experience,

THE SOUTHERN·'FRIED FUNKER

'I ~ \df4

t\~;"

Fr ATS : demosoncassettes,andthenhewouldcutuppieces

1;111 : of tape, patch them together, and then play them for

DON'T rAI-L·. : us.Sothatwashowwegotthosequirkyhalf·beat rM : measures and turnaroundsgoingon thingslike

ME NOW : '"Rock & Roll Doctor".

, Lowell would give the tapes to Billy and say, ~~b~rr~:~~~~~W'E~tCORDS "Normalise thisas much as you canand teachit tothe

GEORGE band." "Rock & Roll Doctor" is almost impossible to dance to, but it's funky as hell. The "Cold ColdCold"/ "Tripe Face Boogie" medley was something we'd done live since Ijoined.and Lowellwanted to

Angered by lack of support from the label, Lowell George dissolves the band for six months. 'The break does them good: having quit LA for Baltimore, and setting up their own Blue Seas studio, they deliver this astonishing collection of South em funk boogie ...

Paul Barrere: We'd done Dixie Chicken and gone on the road a nd Warner Brothers hadn't got our records into the stores. Lowell was absolutely livid. He broke up the band and everybody shuffled around and did other thingsfor abil. And then wegotthis new management team [Cavallo-Ruffalo] that tried to put together a supergroup using Lowell.john Sebastian.and Phil Everly, They hooked us up ina studioin Maryland with an incredibly talented engineer named George Massenburg,and we all lived there fora while in thesameconfinesandjust worked. Wedid partof'Robert Palmcr's Pressere Dropatbl.lm there,and Lowell produced the Seldom Scene. and we got a lot done. Lowell woulddoa lot or

AUGUST 20081 UNCUT 173

THE LAST RECOR'D ALBUM

(1975) WARNER BROS RECORDS. PRODUCED BY LOWELL GEORGE

The sound ofa great. band splintering in two. With Lowell 'George .seemingly more interested in drugs than

I songwriting, the group' looks to the Jazzier material of Bill Payne ...

Bill.Payne:Thiswas the beginning ofthe rift, and we were recordi ng at [ceiebratedengilleerj Dave Hassinger's studio in Hollywood. Pauland I

were writing more together - "Romance

Dance", "All That You Dream" -and he really

hit his high-water mark there. My influence

was heard more on "Day Or Night", which was kind of'ajazzy sound. Lowell had "Long

Distance Love". which was a terrific ballad, but the a tmosphere was 180 -degrees the opposi te of what we experienced onFeatsDon'tFailMeNow. We battled with each other almost every day. I was so pissed and frustrated. And Lowell was getting really high all the time, so his ability to focus on things was completely scattered.

Paul Barrerei Wefinally had George

Massenburg out here in LA and we were working at the Sound Factory. The record won all kinds of crazy sound awards. I waslivingup inLaurel Canyon

: next to Sam Clayton and across the way lived this : great blind organist named Gordon DeWitty. One

: day wewerejammingand I came upwith the chord : progression to "All That You Dream". Lowell

absolutely loved the song and wanted to sing it. Buthistimewasbecomingmoresplit.Hehada

daughter and didn't like going on the road, so he kind of relinquished a lotofthings to us.Itwasa strange time, plus weweredoing thingsto our streams of consciousness, which were not helping ...

WAITING FOR ,COLUMBUS

(l978) WARNER BROS RECORDS PRODUCED BY LOWELL GEORGE

The inevitable double live LP, recorded over several niightsat London's Rainbow and Washington's Lister Auditorium, wi.th the mighty Tower of Power horn section bigging up their sound. 'This proves the final Feat release before Lowen George's death ofa heart attack, at just 34" in 1979.

Paul Barrere. Night in and night out, wewerejust playing again and having a ball. Wewere a big live act all ofasudderr- big halls, big crowds- and it felt good. And the record really shows that I mean, wedid some repair work on it, but not a whole lot. To me it's still the quintessential live Little Featartefact.

Bill Payne: The live album had everything, from the highestofhighs to the lowest of lows where the thing wouldcomecrashingdown.Oneofthenightsatthe Rainbow, Paul had taken sornedowners of the English variety, which were much stronger than he had anticipated, and Lowell was literally burning his feet trying to wake the guy up. Sowegoout and start playing "Walkin' All Night" and Paul literally cannot play. I look at the engineer and motion for him to cut the amp. He looks at me quizzically and Ijust yell. "Turn his fucking amp off'now!" But rhere were many, many high points. In DC, we were able to muster up some really amazing shows and. performances, including a version of"Mercenary Territory" from a sound check.

741 UNCUT 1 AUGUST 2008

LET IT ROLL

(19SS) WARNER BROS RECORDS PRODUCED BY GEORGE MASSENBURG AND BILLPAYNE

The surviving members reunite with the lineup augmented by former Pure Prairie League frontman Craig Fuller and LA guitar legend! Fred! Tackett.

Paul Barrere. After Lowell died weallkind of went our own ways. !twas an imprornptujam session that really got us thinking about putting the band back together. But we didn't want to go out as some SOrt of

, nostalgiaacl.lthad tobe as good as the original band.

Everybody had grown quite a bit in their personal lives, so itwasmore businesslike if you will. Fred was thelogical choice to come in as guitarist, since he'd played on Little Feat records and written "Fool Yourself'. Then itwas a hunt for a vocalist, and we talked to Robert Palmer, Bonnie Raitt and a bunch of folks. Craig just happened to call out of the blue. The first note thatcameoutofhismouth 011 "Rock &Rol1 Doctor", we said, "You're the guy!" He reminded me of "Hate To Lose Your Lovin", which we'd written back in1978,50 we finished it up and got it in the studio. I took the track home and played itback-to-back with DixieChicken and thought, 'You can't tell which comes from which era - we must be on the righttrack.'

Bill Payne: I'mstanding outside !he studio one day hearing "Cold, Cold, Cold" a nd I'm going, "Are they playing the record so they can learn itor are they playing live?" I decided it was Lowell Twashearing and Ipushed through the door andit was Craig ...

JOINITHE BAND

(200B)HOTTOMATO/PROPER PRODUCED BYBILLPAYNEAND MAC McNALLY

P:eat's n.ewreJease - a decade in the making - revisits old classics, abetted by famous fans, from Jimmy Buffett and Emmylou Harris to The Black Crowes ...

Paul Barr-ere: We've been trying todo this thing for a longtime. We had this great connection withjirnmy BuffettbecauseSam Clayton had played with him. Finallyheflewusdown to Key West in his Learjet and we're in his studio for two weeks, pretty much everyday. tryingtoputdifferentspinsonoursongs and not even knowing who the guests were goi ng to be. [twas sort oflike the movie Field OjDreatrls: build it and they will come! First time I heard the Dave Matthews vocal on "Fat Man In The Bathtub" Iknew itwasgoingtowork. I think people are really going to

, be excited to hear someofthe changes. For "Sailin' Shoes"with Emmylon we kicked it up into a more upbeat thing. And then Lowell's daughter Inara sings justa sweet, sweetversionofTrouble". That put a nice bookend on the whole thing.

Bill Payne: Itwas not going to be everybody's cup of tea. There'll be people who say, "That song would have been better ifthey had Willie Nelson singing." ButI was real h appy with the artists who sang. Chris Robinson sings "OhAtlanta" becausejimmy Buffett's daughter heard The Black Crowl's doing "Willin" as an encore. It was great handshake, and for the most part that's what this record is about. (!)

rlDllr:J •••••••••••

e

u

s

- -- --------------------------------- -------------------- -

I

LOWELL GEORGE

PRODUCED BY: LOWELL GEORGE I RELEASED: 1979 LABEL: WMlNER BROTHERS

Your guide to downloading the highlights of Thanks!'11 EatltHere

11 What Do You Want The Girl To Do?

*****

21 Honest Man

***

31 Two Trains

****

41 Can't Stand The Rain

*****

51 Cheek To Cheek

****

6 1 Easy Money

*****

7120 Million Things

***

81 Find A River

***

91 Himmler's Ring

***

Musicians

including: Dean Parks, Fred Tackett. Lowell George. Herb Pedersen (guitars). Jim Gordon. Jeff Porcaro, Jim Keltner, Richie Hayward (drums), Bill Payne, Nicky Hopkins, David Paich. Gordon DeWitty, Jimmy Greenspoon (keyboards),

Jim Price, Darrell Leonard,

Steve Madaio (trumpet), Jerry Jumonville (sax), Bruce Paulson (trombone), Chuck Rainey (bass), Bonnie Raitt, JD Souther, John Phillips (vocals)

WHEN LOWELLGEDRGE'S first and only solo album : emerged in April 1979, it wasn't what his fans thought itwould be. Anybody anticipating a , slide-guitar bonanza or the asymmetrical rhythms: that had been hallmarks of George's best work : with Little Feat felt deflated on encountering sleek ' '70sfunk, songs by Ann Peebles and Rickie Lee ' Jones, aglimpseofmariachi and an obscure Jimmy Webb song called "Himmler's Ring". And the once-prolific songwriter only appeared in the credits on four songs -and one ofthosewasa remake of Little Feat's "Two Trains".

However, the album speaks a slightly different language 25 years later. Removed from thesombre circumstances of its release - George died a few weeks later, following a long period of personal and musical friction with Little Feat - the LP throws subtly different lighton hisskills.ltwas recorded in fits and starts over two-and-a-haltvears, which probably accounts for its uneven shifts ottone. but contains enough clues to assemble a theoretical snapshot of the post-Feat George.

When he suffered his fatal heart attack in a Virginia hotel, George was a few dates into a short US tour. Reviews of the shows suggested he had assembled a tight, skilful band, and while he played some slide-guitar, itwas his vocals that made the biggest Impression. "With this band, it's more fun than I've had ina longtime," he said in an interview. "I'm gettingoffon it."

George's solo career was both something he'd been pondering for some time and a strategy forced on him by the disintegration of Little Feat. Though he had produced the band's 1978 live album Waiting ForCo/umbus, eventually their biggest-seller, the precedingstudiodisc Time Loves A Hero marked the low point of George's influence. Ted Templeman produced, Paul Barrere and Bill Payne dominated the Writing, and Little Feat veered off into a brittle parody of the kind of jazz-fusion experiments being done better by Herbie Hancock or Joe Zawinul. Although George had apparently encouraged his band mates to write more material, his intention probably hadn't been to marginalise himself. He was back inthe producer's chair for 1979's Down On The Farm (which was posthumously released), but left the control room part-way through to polish off his much delayed solo record. Perhaps Warnerswere cracking the whip, having stumped uptheadvance for a George 5010 project back in 1975, or maybe friction with Bill Payne led tohisdeparture.

George marshalled his forces to amass a surge of power which rolled in like long Pacific breakers

••

130 I UNCUT I MAY 2006

Although Little Feat's in-house surrealist Neon ' Rain" and Rickie Lee Jones' "Easy Money", though

Parksuppliedtheartwork for Thanks"., itwas each called for a slightly different vocal approach.

striking how the solo George cut himself loose On "Easy Money", Georgeopted for the sly, laconic

from the band's tight but improvisatory approach persona he'd used on minor Feat pieces like

in favour of studio gloss. Although George was a "Brickyard Blues" or Leiber & Stoller's "Framed".

glutton for round-the-clock studio work and Feat whereas "Can't Stand The Rain" caused him to

albums had steadily accrued technical polish, reach across his entire range with awesome

there was always a live band at the core. Bycontrast, aplomb. from growling basso-profundo to smooth

several tracks from Thanks", suggest the falsetto. The vocal performance was matched by

fastidiousness of Steely Dan, an impression a carefully wrought slide solo - the best of a

reinforced by the fact George had been recruiting disappointingly meagre handful on the disc.

from the same pool of session musicians favoured If George designed the album as a stylistic

by Becker and Fagen. Drummer Jeff Porcaro, assault course. virtually the only missinggenre

guitarist Dean Parks and bassist Chuck Raineywill was death-metal. He hooked upwith Van Dyke

be familiar to Dan fans, while the guest list also Parks to create "Cheek To Cheek", an absurd yet

included Nicky Hopkins, Jim Gordon, bluegrass charming tale of romance south of the border

specialist Herb Pedersen and The Mamas& The given an authentic patina ofTijuana by the tinkling

Papas' John Phillips. He used so many contributors, harps and thrummingvihuelasofMexican group

hewas forced to admit in thesleevenotes: "I quite LosCompanjeros. "Lowell wasa real musician from

honestly don't remember who played what." an academic standpoint," observed Parks, an

Many of them must have crowded in for the admirer of George's accomplishments as well as

opener,an exquisitely burnished treatment of his oblique sense of humour. "He knewa lotabou;

Allen Toussaint's "What Do You WantThe Girl To serious and non-serious music." For "20 Million

Do?" in which Georgedeployed the full panoply of Things", George paired off with go-anywhere

strings, horns and backing singers over a pin-sharp lyricist Jacques Levy to create a piece reminiscent

rhythm section. But, for once, more really meant of "Long Dislance Love" in its climbing chord

more, with George marshalling his forces to amass , sequence and Lowell's dolefully bruised delivery.

a surge of power which rolled in like long Pacific : Tackett's "Find A River" was the record's most

breakers. Hetookthesongata measured pace, 'unadorned performance. built around acoustic

affording himselfspaceforthe first of several guitar and George's plaintive singing. For a finale,

masterly vocal performances. Warm, supple and the mood of creeping introspection was briskly

soulful, hissinginghere affirmed that George was punctured by "Himm ler's Ring", ajokey jazz-era

on courseto become one of theall-time great 'item redolent of old Hollywood and clandestine

stylists, like soz Scaggs with afterburners. Evidently: drinking dens. It made for an aptlvquzzical thiswasaconscious effort. "I was trying to sing and : conclusion to an album that was full of hints

develop a style," headmitted,addingthatTony 'and possibilities, yet which never quite managed

Bennett: Marvin Gaye and 5tevieWonderwere to put all its cards on the table. George had

some of the singers who'd inspired him. greatness in him, but could he ever have found

Built on a similarly grand scale were "Honest another music environment as rewarding or

Man", a chunk of soul-funkiness co-written with challenging as Little Feat at their peak?

Fred Tackett, Peebles standard "Can't Stand The ADAM5WEETING

REVIEWS ALBUMS

The Southern-fried third is th~ band at its peak, saysfidam Sweetlng_ _,

UTIU:,.", '''''' '''"'''1 Rele,ased. ina year

i.; that also produced

, - !:\ Steely Dan's

" , Countdoum To

Ecstasy, The Eagles'Desperado and J ac k son Browne'sForEveryman, Little Feat's DIxie Cbicken still sounds like a viable contender for American Album Of'73, However, despite generous reviews, this was not the view at the time, since only30,OOOboughta copy, making it the band's third successive commercial flop, Had the Feat not been signed to Warners, then basking in the artistfriendly presidency ofMo Ostin, it might have been three strikes and out.

Instead, Dixie Chicken can now be seen as the band's game-changing moment. ushering in the new six-piece Southernfried Feat in place of the surreal blues' rock quartet which had recorded Little FeatandSailm'Shoes, When bassist Roy Estrada quit to take ajoh with Frank Zappa, Feat supremo Lowell George replaced him with Kenny Gradney. The latter had resigned from Delaney & Bonnie'sband in protest at the sacking of conga playerSam Clayton,so he suggested that George should hire Claytonas well, George had a taste for the New Orleans groovesof'Drjohn

a nd Allen Toussaint, whitt' keyboa I'd player Bill Payne liked to soak up the Crescent City soundsofClifton Chenier and Fats Domino, The possibilities of an extra percussionist to complement drummer Richie Hayward suddenly seemed like an inspired idea,

The rebuilt squad wascompleted by Paul Barren', who'd been a schoolmate of George's at Hollywood High and had auditioned unsuccessfully to be the bassist in the original Feat. That failure wasa blessing in disguise, since he now joined in his true metier as aguitarist,

TheopeningphrasesofDixieChicken immediately announced that things had changed. The feel isfunky, laid, bac k, a little bi t lopsided, as Gradney's syncopated bassline locks in with the drums and congas and Bill Payne's piano figure tinkles drolly overhead, So far, so Professor Longhair. Butas so often with the Feat, it was master chef George who transformed raw ingredients into the fully realised dish, Even now his earthy, sou lful singing remains under-appreciated, and it rarely sounded better than when applied torhe absurdist narrative of "Dixie Chicken", The lyrics, by

Great albums reappraised

LITTLE FEAT

Dixie Chicken WARNER BROTHERS

Funked up Feat in '73: (elwisefrom left) Paul Barrere, Lowell George, Sam Clayton, Richie Hayward, Kenny Gradney and Bill Pay.ne

George's buddy, Martin Kibbee, tellthe story of how the narrator was taken for a wild, wailet-emptying rideby his seductive "Southern Belle", The

cone lusion, where the punters in the barof'Memphis's Cornmodore Hotel all join in the chorus, is like an echo of that scenein The Graduate where all the hotel bellboys recognise Dustin Hoffman's Benjamin because ofhis assignations with Mrs Robinson, Kibbee recalled how he'd been inspired by driving past a big LA street sign saying DIXIE

CHI CKEN, and had presented his lyrics to George when the band were rehearsing on a Warners soundstage, "You fuckiu'r-ut, no way,"was George's initial response, before he saw the light

AnotherGeorge ally. that fine Southern gentleman Van Dyke Parks, has talked about how George's writing at the time was influenced by his Korg Donca-Maricdrum machine. "He would take a drurn figure.tsaid Parks, "which would have been predesigned by some farseeingjapanese sound technician, and he would offset it two beats, This would provide the most arnazi ng ki nd of zero gravity of rhythm, which was highly deceptive."

George and Parks dubbed this rhythmic sleighr-of-hand "mock tango", and it underpinned the creation of the second track, "Two Trains", Not a million miles from thekindofstuffThe Doobie Brothers were regularly

banging into the top end of the charts, it's a smart.come-on-in kind of song with an infectious groove and what could easily have been a Top40 hook. George treats himself to piercing slide guitar breaks while a clutch offemale vocalists raise some R'n'Bhell, but it's the sleek interlocking ofrhenew Feat rhythm section that really dazzles, The Gradney/Hayward (Clayton axis rolls onward like a diesel truck.while the twin rhythm guitars - one doing little wah-wah stings, the other recycling repeated driving phrases - maintain impetus, It's difficult to ascertain who played which, since George apparently replaced sorncof Barrere's work on the album with his own, but Booker T & The MG 's never did it better.

DIXIe Cbicken was George's creative zenith, since he-persuaded the record company to let him produce in addition to dominating the writing and playing, Thr-allroundrffort straiucd his relationships with his cohorts and left him exhausted, but it meant the LP became thernost complete statement of his various talents. Forinstance, the Payne/Barrerecomposition "Walkir;' All Night" gives the band ample space to stretch out into a loose, hip-swinging gait, and George peels off a slide guitar blitz, but Barrere's vocal isa pale shadow of what George was capable

of, while the streetwalker lyrics make nopretentions tocqualling Ccorge's idiosyncratic wit By contrast, George's ownrollicking,self'mocking"FatMan In The Bathtub" seems positively meta ~ physical. despite beingjust another chip off the old boychasesgirlblock.

Undoubtedly, George needed the massed expertise of his ba nd mates, for the sun-baked Louisianagrooveof "Lafayette Railroad" or the blinding instrumental interplay they brought to their reading of Allen Toussaint's moody, bluesy "On Your Way Down", But he was torn by a can flicring desire to be in control. and hence he later considered "Roll Urn Easy" to be the disc's most perfectly real ised song, The mix of his slide and acoustic guitars and emotive vocal isdevastatlngly effective, but it's essentially a solo performance, plusa ragged harmony from Three Dog Night's Danny Hutton,

So while DIxie Chicken was the Feat at their finest, it foreshadowed the egobattlesandpowerstrugglesthatwould , leave them mortally damaged, Hardly aunique rurn ofevents in the annals ofrock'n'roll. of co II rse t!I

I UNCUT I APRIL 2009

TRACKMARKS

1 I Dixie Chicken *****

2 I Two Trains

*****

31 RollUmEasy

***** 410nYourWayDown

*****

51 Kiss It Off *** 61 Fool Yourself

****

71 Walkin'AllNight

****

81 FatManlnThe

PRODUCER Lowell George

RELEA.SED Feb 1973

Bathtub ***** 91 Juliette

****

10 I Lafayette Railroad

**** MUSI.CIANS

Lowell George (guitars, cowbells, vocals);Paut Barrere(guitars, vocals); Bill Payne (keyboards, vocals, synth); Richie Hayward (drums, vocals); Kenny Gradney (bass); Sam Clayton

(congas); Milt Holland (tablas); Malcolm Cecil (synth); Fred.Tackett (acoustic guitar); Danny Hutton, Bonnie Bramlett, Debbie Lindsey, Trett Fure, GloriaJones, Stephanie Spurville, Bonnie Raitt (backing vocals)

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