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Feat Don't Fail Now
on 2 July 2012
Purists may scoff at the post-Lowell George incarnation of Little Feat, but they're still going strong more than three decades after their leader's death.
Output has admittedly been patchy, with different lead vocalists on board including Pure Prairie League's Craig Fuller and, for a time, even a female singer (sacrilege!) in Shaun Murphy, but replacing such an idiosyncratic front man was always going to be nigh on impossible.
Their last album of new material, "Kickin' It At The Barn" some nine years ago marked something of a return to form and happily this long-awaited new one continues the revival. In fact, this is probably as close as they've come in all this time to the sound and feel of the Lowell George era, witness tracks such as "Salome" "Rooster Rag" and "One Breath At A Time".
Guitarist Paul Barrere, for so long post-George the principal songwriter for the band, takes something of a back seat this time with only one co-write to his name, the rumbustious "Just A Fever". In place of the usual clutch of Barrere compositions, famed Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter collaborates on four songs with keyboardist Bill Payne, including the bluegrassy title track, whilst multi-instrumentalist Fred Tackett steps up to the plate with four compositions of his own, including the late-nite jazzy "Tattooed Girl" and the moody "Church Falling Down".
An energetic cover of Mississippi John Hurt's lascivious "Candy Man Blues" adds to the general bonhomie, and the band round things off nicely with a lively romp through Willie Dixon's "Mellow Down Easy", another innuendo-laden post-war blues made famous by Little Walter, with long-serving percussionist Sam Clayton on lead vocal duties.
Drummer Gabe Ford makes an impressive debut in place of the sadly-deceased Richie Hayward, and, overall, whilst it's certainly no "Dixie Chicken" this is nonetheless a very acceptable Little Feat album this far down the line.