Little Feat's brainy virtuosos have never sought (nor had the luck to stumble into) the kind of hit singles Steely Dan keeps racking up. Yet the two groups have the same stripesarch, even arrogant wit mixed with playing that pushes toward jazz. The important difference is in the bands' outlooks. Steely Dan is cool, fluid and distant, but its music fits into MOR programming. The Feat are heated up and, uh, willin', even though last year's studio album, Time Loves a Hero, exhibited the group more as players than songwriters.
Waiting for Columbus plunks itself down right between these strains. Little Feat's contrariness emerges as energy, and, though this double live set contains fifteen familiar cuts and two quick novelty numbers, it's anything but a garage sale. The songs really smoke.
"Dixie Chicken" might stand as an exemplar of what the Feat are doing right. The song's narrative opens with a vision of a Southern siren and closes with a barroom chorus from some of her many lovers. Everything here is characteristic of the saloon-story hyperbole these urban cowpokes have always been good at, and the Dixieland break from the Tower of Power horn section almost seems to bloom from Lowell George's bemused singing.
Whatever Little Feat may mean by Waiting for Columbus, this band has managed not only to utilize several styles of music (rock & roll, R&B, jazz), but to link these styles to a folk minstrel's grasp of the impulsiveness that American culture inherited from its frontier days. (RS 262)
(Posted: Apr 6, 1978)
Click the play button.
Register or enter your username and password.
Let the music play!