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Little Feat: Barnstormin

C. Michael Bailey By

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Little Feat remains one of the more enduring bands to have emerged out of the 1970s. This endurance is manifest in both the group's longevity and continually fresh creativity. Since leaving the major label realm and starting Hot Tomato Records, the band has released numerous archival (Raw Tomatoes, Volume 1 & Ripe Tomatoes, Volume 1) and contemporary recordings (High Wire Act Live in St. Louis, Kickin' It at the Barn, Down Upon the Suwannee River, and Live at Rams Head) of note.

Barnstormin' Live, Volume 1 documents LF's 2004 tour of the same title. It represents a departure from the earlier Hot Tomato live recordings in that there is a greater percentage of post-Lowell George material ("Rocket in My Pocket and "Roll Um Easy are the only LG-vintage pieces). Keeping with the most recent live modus operandi, the band opts for extended introductions, precisely offered with a refined tone. "Rocket in My Pocket begins with Paul Barrere carefully rendering the famous introduction with Fred Tackett. Barrere's slide guitar playing is a wonderful thing to behold, as evidenced on this opening number. The sonic nature of the band has evolved also, becoming much more refined. The guitars are well-defined, meshing perfectly with Bill Payne's keyboards.

LF has recently accepted the mantle of "jam band. It's certainly accurate, and Little Feat has the distinction of being the most disciplined of the jam bands. While the group has expanded its new and old songs, extending introductions and solo space, it never descends into the empty excess of 1970s noodling that plagued the Grateful Dead and Phish. On the jam side of things, Barnstormin' Live couples "One Clear Moment (from 1988's Let it Roll) with "Just Another Sunday" (from 2000's Chinese Work Songs). This medley possesses Grateful Dead harmonies and the same improvisatory spirit that inspired the band's last studio recording, Kickin' It at The Barn. The band is stretching out and doing it in a way that will not bore the listener. This release makes me anxious for Barnstormin' Live, Volume 2.

Track Listing: 1. Rocket In My Pocket; 2. Keepin' Up With the Joneses; 3. Change In Luck; 4. Spider's Blues 5. One Clear Moment / Just Another Sunday; 6. Walkin' As Two; 7. Last Night; 8. Roll Um Easy 9. The Blues Don't Tell It All; 10. Why Don't It Look Like the Way That It Talk.

Personnel: Little Feat: Fred Tackett (vocals, guitar, mandolin, trumpet); Paul Barrere (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Bill Payne (vocals, keyboards); Richie Hayward (vocals, drums); Shaun Murphy (vocals, tambourine); Sam Clayton (vocals, percussion); Kenny Gradney (bass guitar). Producers: Howard Burke; Roger Cole; Paul Barrere; Bill Payne.

Title: Barnstormin | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Hot Tomato

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