Little Feat: Kickin' It at the Barn (2003)
Kickin' It at the Barn is Little Feat's first studio album since 2000?s Chinese Work Songs. Its release and promotion coincided with the 2003 full acoustic tour and appropriately so. The disc is replete with acoustic numbers and represents quite a departure from recent recordings. Thus,
Children, this is not your parents' Little Feat.
This is a band that has moved on, its players digging deeper into their own muse, their creativity expanding horizontally into areas hitherto unaddressed. The disc is initiated with "Night On the Town," an acoustic juggernaut fueled by Paul Barrere's foggy vocals and resophonic slide guitar, a modern day hoe-down piece. "Night" fairly well sets the tone for the rest of the recording. It allows all members to stretch out, particularly Bill Payne on honky tonk piano and Fred Tackett on mandolin and violin.
"Heaven Forsaken" again has Barrere on lead vocals in a quasi- acoustic setting, this time preaching a roots based rock and roll gospel. Shaun Murphy shines brightly on the swampy-dense "I'd Be Lyin,'" a song prominently featured during their recent electric tour along with Fred Tackett?s "A Town Like This" from his solo recording A Town Like This . Electrically, these songs have a plugged in, tsunami momentum. "Corazones Y Sombras" is a fun Latin romp with accordion and Tex-Mex lyrics. The song reminds me of Jackson Brown's "Linda Paloma" from "The Pretender."
I contend that Little Feat, the Allman Brothers Band, and Grateful Dead are the quintessential jam bands. Without them, there would be no Phish, no Widespread Panic, no String Cheese Incident, no MMW or Soulive. Where I think Little Feat is superior to the other mentioned bands is in their keen judgement of cover music and their finely crafted instrumentals that never disintegrate into so much self-indulgent crapola.
Of keen interest on Kickin' It at the Barn are the pieces "Stomp" and "I Do What the Telephone Tells Me." The former begins as funk rave-up with Bill Payne?s organ sliding over the twin guitars. A lengthy Fred Tackett cum John Coltrane guitar solo follows the introduction, leading into a keyboard transition that is more rock than funk, with some very nice and intricate ensemble playing. Bill Payne solos every effectively on piano, offering a slick mix of Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Professor Longhair.
"I Do What the Telephone Tells Me" is a cute strut with some very fine Richie Hayward drumming. Both tunes would serve well as great jam vehicles.
Kickin' It marks an exciting time for Little Feat, whose creativity and muse continues to grow. Highly recommended.
For more information, visit Little Feat and Hot Tomato Records
Track Listing: Night On The Town; Heaven Forsaken; I?d Be Lyin?; Corazones Y Sombras; Walking As Two; In A Town Like This; Fighting The Mosquito Wars; Stomp; Why Don?t It Look Like The Way That It Talk; I Do What The Telephone Tells Me To Do; Bills River Blues.
Personnel: Paul Barrere?Guitars, Vocals; Fred Tackett?Guitars, Trumpet, Mandolin, Vocals; Shaun Murphy? Percussion, Vocals; Sam Clayton?Percussion, Vocals; Bill Payne? Keyboards, Vocals, Kenny Gradney?Bass, Vocals; Richie Hayward?Drums, Vocals.
Record Label: Hot Tomato
Style: Beyond Jazz