Thursday, September 03, 2009

Requested Review: "Sailin' Shoes" by Little Feat

vagcake

Before I delve into this sure-to-be-a-winner Little Feat review, I would like to take a moment to apologize for last week's post in which I claimed blogfriend Ben Vigeant was "legitimately upset" with an old video game review of mine. It was unnecessary and simply not true! Which I guess goes for that entire video game-related tangent in that very same post. You would all do well to ignore it next time the urge to read my Sebadoh reviews hits you. Which I'm sure will be a frequent problem.

Moving on then. Tonight's review was requested by none other than my good friend Luke Coryea! I have known good 'ol Luke for a very long time. Kindergarten, at least. It is not much of a stretch to say that, without Luke's musical influence on me during high school, I would not be writing in a blog about music much at all. He was inadvertently responsible for most of my sudden classic rock obsession during my teenage years, and for that I owe him quite a bit! Without him I would probably not know a single thing about Todd Rundgren. What kind of life would I be leading without knowing what album "Bang The Drum All Day" was on??

Well, anyway. Luke gave me a few options for albums to review; one was a Todd Rundgren record that I didn't do 'cuz I already reviewed like 5 of his albums at once, and another was a Stephen Stills album which I didn't do because I actually know who Stephen Stills is. The last one was Little Feat's Sailin' Shoes, which I chose mostly 'cuz I remember Luke talking about how much he liked them back in high school. I knew nothing about them then, and until about a week ago, I still knew absolutely nothing about them! So I figured that would make for a kinda-sorta interesting review.

What are Little Feat, anyway? Who IS Little Feat? When was Little Feat?? So so many questions about these Feat. Well, the main dude (at least in the early 70's, when Sailin' Shoes was recorded) is a man named Lowell George, who sang, played guitar and wrote most of the songs here. There's also a bunch of other dudes whose names I do not know, so let's not worry about them. Sailin' Shoes, released in '72, sounds to me like a mix of country rock with a tinge of Stonesy hard-rock and blues, not to mention some occasional early 70's pop-rock. The latter is most evident on "Easy To Slip," the first track on here; it's a sweet, easy going piece of pop-rock that almost sounds like Jackson Browne at his most slick. I mean that in a good way, though, since "Easy To Slip" might be my favorite song on here. The guitars are chimey and twangy, and the vocal melody is remarkably amiable - it's a good time, is what I'm saying. A pleasant early-70's vibe. It makes a man feel good.

The rest of the album isn't quite as poppy as the opening track. "Cold, Cold, Cold", "Cat Fever" and (obviously) "A Apolitical Blues" all dip into the blues; "Willin'" "Trouble" and the title track are pretty much straight-up country; and "Tripe Face Boogie" and ESPECIALLY "Teenage Nervous Breakdown" are rock rock rockin'! The latter is almost punk-rock, one could say! (Not really, though. It's pretty much just fast rock 'n roll. Not all fast rock 'n roll is punk rock. I would do well to remember this.) So while there is some stylistic diversity on here, the whole record as a pretty clear, poppy production. Nothing really sounds raw or legit bluesy - it's a well-produced album. And that's not a detriment; this album has a very amiable sound, and the production reflects that.

Pshh. I don't know what I'm talking about. "Production" - sheesh. Let's talk about what songs I like on here. "Easy To Slip," I already talked about that one. "Trouble" is a sweet little country-rock tune. "Teenage Nervous Breakdown" is - well I'm actually not sure what to think about it. Something about it puts me off. Lowell George's vocals? He kinda sounds like he's trying to hard to force a "rockin'" voice out of his usually amiable country-boy vocals. Jury's still out on that one. "Got No Shadow" starts off with a lite-funk keyboard that doesn't really appeal to me, but turns into a melodic laid-back jam that does, so that's a good thing. "Willin'" actually has a story behind it: apparently, Lowell George used to be in the Mothers of Invention for some strange reason, and ended up getting kicked out 'cause he offered Frank Zappa the aforementioned track. According to him, Mr. Zappa was so opposed to recreational drug use that any endorsement of it in a song like "Willin'" was grounds for termination. Now, to me, that seems like kind of a silly reason to kick someone out of a band, but who the hell am I? I'm no musician from the early 70's. I have no idea what actually happened. Either way "Willin'" is a cute country-rock ditty with mostly spoke-sung verses. I think it's from the point of view of a trucker? Either way it mentions drug use a lot. There you go.

"Texas Rose Cafe" feels like an unusual way to end an album. Not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination, but hey, what's with that falsetto vocal from Mr. George? What's up with that? Actually, you know, hearing it again that's probably the only unusual thing about the song. Otherwise it's a bluesy-rock road song. Or maybe it's not a road song. Let's not worry about it.

I don't always like whiteboy British blues songs but I like "A Apolitical Blues" enough. It's not my favorite song on the album but it's got a nice sound. Everything here sounds good, and hey, to record an album as likeable as Sailin' Shoes is certainly no little feat. Heh. Heheh HAHAHA!! I'm sure you saw that one coming.

Apparently the misspelling of "feet" is supposed to be a tribute to the Beatles? That's nice. They don't sound anything like the Beatles even the slightest bit but it's cute.

Lowell George died in '79 of a heart attack. A heart attack? The guy was in his mid-30's! That's rough. That's kind of scary. Unless it was drug related. Then it makes perfect sense and we can move on without issue.

Unfortunately, there's not much to move on to! This is a pretty likeable album that you might enjoy if you like early 70's country-pop-rock (or "classic rock," as you could call it, although that's not much of a genre). You'll probably like it. Apparently Little Feat are still recording and touring! And sometimes they have album covers like this one:



These guys sure had zany album covers!!!

This review isn't very interesting huh.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

dude, You needa revisit Little Feat. Clearly haven't listened to enough of this band to have written such a tepid review.

Anonymous said...

I realize that just because I love a band doesn't mean others should. Nevertheless, I submit that if I were imprisoned on a desert island for the rest of my life, and allowed only one album, that album would be Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus.

Jim Little said...

I would have to agree with the first post. Sailin Shoes is a truly great album. A great blend of southern rock, country and blues. To quote another writer, Little Feat is hewn from the same wood as the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Band and the Byrds with a little Allman Bros thrown in for good measure. Lowell George's slide guitar is also incredible and is one of the reasons that people love the Feat so much.