Here’s an imaginary, early-1970s, soul-jazz-funk studio album by Little Feat. It does not include anything from the seven Lowell George-era studio albums.
This mix is a customized shoe for some fascinating extra Feat toes. It shuffles together selections from the band’s recordings with jazz drummer Chico Hamilton (1973), with Lowell George sound-alike singer Robert Palmer (1975), and from officially-released studio outtakes compilations (1972-1975, with two 1969 outliers).
Nearly all the material is contemporary with the band’s third and fourth albums, “Dixie Chicken” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” the first to feature the band’s classic second lineup: Lowell George, Bill Payne, Richie Hayward, Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney, and Sam Clayton. The famous bootleg Ultrasonic Studios session is from this same period (September 1974).
While every player isn’t on every song (see notes below the track list), this mix documents that group during its flood years, when riffs and grooves seemed to spill out of them, and they were a very sensible studio band choice.
By giving the Hamilton and Palmer tracks a better setting – by culling and combining them with each other and with a handful of kindred outtakes – this mix tries to supply a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, and a coherent album that isn’t much like any of the band’s official ones.
One-hour mp3 mix zipped up here
- Spanish Moon (1973 single version)
- I Can Hear the Grass Grow (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
- Here with You Tonight (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
- Conquistadores (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
- All That You Dream (1974 outtake)
- Gengis (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
- Work to Make It Work (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
- Eldorado Slim (1972 outtake)
- Stu (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
- Juliet (1969 outtake)
- Fine Time (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
- High Roller (1975 outtake)
- Stacy (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
- Jazz Thing in 10 (1969 outtake)
- River Boat (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
- Trouble (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
Chico Hamilton’s “The Master” (1973) features all the second formation members of Little Feat except Richie Hayward (who is replaced by Hamilton on drums), with additional organ by Jerry Aiello and Stu Gardner, and more congas by Simon Nava. The limitation of the album is that it’s mostly just riffs and small jams, and almost sounds like “sessions for,” rather than a true album, clocking in at a meagre 35 minutes. I’ve included all but three tracks, which happen to be the album’s first three tracks!? More information here.
Robert Palmer’s “Pressure Drop” (1975) features all the second formation members of Little Feat, but also includes enough additional musicians to make it unclear exactly who is playing on each track. Those that overlap Feat instruments include James Jamerson on bass, Ed Greene on drums/percussion, and Jean Roussel and Gordon DeWitty on clavinet, organ, and/or other keyboards. I have included five of eleven tracks; the others are hopelessly cheesy and un-Feat-like. More information here.
Little Feat have done a great job of releasing non-album material from the George years, on “Hoy Hoy,” and “Hot Cakes and Outtakes,” plus two double-disc live archive albums, “Hot” and “Ripe Tomatos” [sic]. Nonetheless, there’s no way to stack all or most of the studio outtakes into anything that feels like more than a warehouse of outtakes, demos, early versions, etc. Pulling some of them out and threading them into the Hamilton and Palmer material seemed to bring them into focus as meaningful Feat moments.