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Little Feat

Little Feat - Kickin' It At The Barn - 2003 - Hot Tomato

"Kickin' It at the Barn" is one of Little Feat's better modern day albums. Paul Barrere, Bill Payne and Fred Tackett produced the album. It was recorded at Fred Tackett's studio in Topanga Canyon, CA and given a "live" sound by using layered overdubs. All the tracks are good here, and Little Feat covers ballads, and Southern funk & rock, with the band's famous freewheeling fusion of California rock and Dixie-inflected funk-boogie. "Corazones y Sombras" might take some getting used to, but is a good example of the band's "Mexican Rock'N'Roll style. "Stomp" is just short of jazz fusion, and has a great sound. Little Feat, as well as being grear Rock'N' Rollers, could also play jazz fusion expertly, and this is demonstrated in their brilliant "The Last Record Album" recording. Little Feat added a new lead singer, Shaun Murphy in 1993, and her bluesy, dynamic voice added an ingredient to the band's music that was absent for a few years during the late seventies, and through the eighties, when LF released some albums that were not up to the band's high standard. Check out the band's 1995 " Ain’t Had Enough Fun" album, and listen to Shaun Murphy's vocals, and how she "upped" the quality of Little Feat's music. Little Feat's music, with it's unique blend of folk, blues, rockabilly, country and jazz will always be around. They are one of the all time great rock bands, and "Kickin' It At The Barn" typifies the quality of this remarkable band's music. In his liner notes to the album, Paul Barrere writes, ”If music is a conversation between the players, then we are talking like never before…this has been truly one of the most memorable recording projects we’ve done. We started with an idea to write songs on acoustic guitar and piano, like the old days before computers and samples, and then let the band interpret the music.“ Search this blog for more Little Feat music.


"Night on the Town" (Barrère, Tackett) – 6:08
"Heaven Forsaken" (Barrère, Tackett) – 4:32
"I'd Be Lyin'" (Creamer, Mariani, Murphy) – 5:56
"Corazones y Sombras" (Barrère, Bruton, Donnelly, Payne) – 8:04
"Walking as Two" (Barrère, Murphy, Payne, Tackett) – 6:23
"In a Town Like This" (Tackett) – 4:15
"Fighting the Mosquito Wars" (Payne) – 6:43
"Stomp" (Payne) – 8:56
"Why Don't It Look Like the Way That It Talk" (Barrère, Tackett) – 7:44
"I Do What the Telephone Tells Me to Do" (Barrère, Payne, Tackett) – 7:42
"Bill's River Blues" (Barrère, Payne) – 5:04


Paul Barrère - vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, dobro
Sam Clayton - percussion, vocals
Kenny Gradney - bass
Richie Hayward - drums, backing vocals
Shaun Murphy - vocals, hand percussion
Bill Payne - vocals, keyboards
Fred Tackett - vocals, electric guitar, dobro, mandolin, mandocello, trumpet


Larry Campbell - violin
Nacho Hernandez - accordion
Jesus "Chuy" Guzman - trumpet, mellophone
Piero Mariani - percussion


Kickin' It at the Barn is Little Feat's first album for their own indie label, Hot Tomato Records, which makes more of a difference than you might think. In his liner notes for the album, guitarist/vocalist Paul Barrére said they called the album Kickin' It at the Barn because it captures the band laying back and relaxing while recording at bandmember Fred Tackett's home studio, the Barn, and that's exactly what the album sounds like -- it's relaxed and warm, sounding more comfortable and lived-in than such otherwise likeable latter-day efforts as Chinese Work Songs. That vibe is welcome and pleasurable, notably different than some of their platters for CMC, and that alone would separate this from other Feat albums of a recent vintage, but there are also some ventures into different sounds and styles, such as "Corazones y Sombras," which is a dead ringer for Los Lobos. Yet what really makes this work is that the songwriting is often sharper than it has been of late. There are still a few stumbles -- instrumental vamps like Bill Payne's "Stomp" are better-suited for live performances -- but Barrére and Tackett's opening pair of "Night on the Town" and "Heaven Forsaken" are first-rate, and the moody "Why Don't It Look Like the Way That It Talk" isn't far behind either. Like much reunited Little Feat, Kickin' It at the Barn is a little too laid-back and groove-centric for its own good, but there's a better variety of grooves, sounds, and songs on this, enough to make it one of their stronger latter-day affairs. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

A lot of us Baby Boomers may have trouble recognizing the fact that it has been more that 30 years or more since the bands who came to identify the Woodstock era had their heyday. Not surprisingly, most of those bands are no more, having either broken up, of suffered the death of a key member. Of those who remain, probably the majority are now playing their oldies on the nostalgia circuit, and these days, perhaps on PBS-TV specials. There have also been notable reunions that turned out to be quite lucrative. But there are a few performers and bands who remain creatively active, continuing to make new music and not spending their much of their time wallowing in the past, no matter how much their aging fans may request the oldies. One such 35-year veteran group, who remain creative after all these years, is Fairport Convention. Another is Little Feat. The veteran American band, who three years ago marked their 30th anniversary, is out with their newest release Kickin' It at the Barn. Little Feat was formed in 1970 by the late Lowell George, who wrote many of the group's early classics, along with current member Bill Payne, as well as Roy Estrada, who had just left Frank Zappa's band at the time. It was not long before the current rhythm section of bassist Kenny Gradney, drummer Richie Hayward and percussionist Sam Clayton joined. After Lowell George died in 1979, the group continued on for a while, then went into hiatus for a few years, as the various members worked extensively as studio musicians. Keyboard man Bill Payne was on scores of albums during the 1970s and Eighties. The band reformed in the late 1980s, with the addition of guitarist Fred Tackett and ex-Pure-Prairie League vocalist Craig Fuller, who left after a couple years. Meanwhile, Ms. Shaun Murphy, who had been adding some backing vocals and percussion since 1988 became a full member of Little Feat. Little Feat has always been a band happy to go off in several different musical directions, thanks to the diverse background of the members. Lowell George was a singer-songwriter with some Southern rock influence. Kayboard man Bill Payne had always brought a jazzy element a'la Steely Dan. The rhythm section is known for their great funk groove, often with a New Orleans-style undercurrent. They have created a very rhythmic approach with a slightly odd way of accenting beats that is instantly recognizable as Little Feat. Guitarist Tackett is also a versatile and busy studio musician, and he also can bring a singer-songwriter facet to the music. So the band can jam, get funky, create something akin to jazz-rock fusion, rock out, and also have something to say lyrically. Their new CD, their first studio album since 2000, continues the group's diverse but instantly recognizable sound. The CD's title, Kickin' It at the Barn comes from its recording venue, a barn-like building on Fred Tackett's property in Topanga, California. They moved there after Paul Barrere had to do some remodeling in the garage that previously served the band. Barrere writes of roughing it with water leaking in, and apparently neighbors complaining about the noise. But with the studio smarts of the band members, and a dash of computer audio recording technology, Kickin' It at the Barn is fully up to Little Feat's traditional high standards. Once again, there are opportunities to hear different voices in the band, both musically and literally, with Barrere's unmistakable vocals, along with those of Payne. Also contributing both compositions and vocals are Tackett and Ms. Murphy, as was the case on their last studio release Chinese Work Songs. According to Barrere, they went back to the way they used to create songs, on acoustic guitar and piano, then letting the rest of the band flesh them out, including writing the lyrics, which with this band, tend to come after the music. That method of working also ends up being reflected in the final product, with a fair amount of acoustic instrumentation being heard. The CD gets under way with Night on the Town by Barrere and Tackett, a piece in the classic Little Feat mold, though with a fair amount of acoustic instrumentation. It's a good party song. With more serious lyrics is Heaven Forsaken, also by Barrere and Tackett. Despite the words, the tune has an old-fashioned Rolling-Stones-style feel. Altogether it works quite well. The CD's most eclectic piece is the Tex-Mex styled track Corazones y Sambras, or "hearts and shadows," by Bill Payne. Some tradtional-style Mexican musicians are added and are featured prominently as the tracks breaks into a Tex-Mex polka and later an all-out fiesta during its eight-minute length. Most of the songs on the album are co-writes by various members of the band. Fred Tackett's one tune on the CD that he wrote by himself is In a Town Like This, an appealing rocker with worthwhile lyrics. Ms. Murphy is featured on a song she co-wrote with her husband Pierro Mariani, I'd Be Lyin'. It's an interesting mix of swamp blues with occasional bouts of a reggae beat. Most Little Feat albums feature an instrumental by Bill Payne. Kickin' It at the Barn no exception. Stomp, the CD's longest track is a kind of prototypical jam-band piece, though with the musical ingredients that are Little Feat's trademark. Probably the album's most distinctive lyrics come on Fighting the Mosquito Wars, also by Bill Payne. The piece takes a decidedly laid-back direction. The CD ends with a song that remained pretty much as Barrere and Payne wrote it on the acoustic guitar and piano. Bill's River Blues provides a nice coda to this generally upbeat recording. Kickin' It at the Barn the new, 18th album by the venerable band Little Feat shows that despite the 33 years that have passed since the formation of the group, they are still is fine form, coming up with new original music and seemingly determined to avoid being lumped in with the has-beens on the oldies circuit, even though they were dropped by their record company long ago. This independent release shows that they have not lost their ability to come up with music that is both rhythmically infectious and interesting in a number of ways. The band's musicianship is first-rate, and the increasing use of acoustic instruments on this CD is a welcome development, but tey don't forsake the party element to their sound. Our grade for recording quality is close to an "A." Most of the band members are veterans of many recording sessions as studio musicians on big-budget projects, and their attention to detail is evident on this CD, which one could never tell was recorded in a rickety barn with equipment scrounged together. But, our album review would not be complete without our almost weekly complaint about dynamic range lost by pushing the recording to being louder than it needs to be in the mastering process. Although Little Feat tries some different twists on their new CD, the important elements of their sound remain, Paul Barrere's distinctive vocals, the driving, often danceable beat, occasionally punctuated by some tricky rhythmic figures and the all-around great musicianship. Long-time Little Feat fans will not be disappointed in Kickin' It at the Barn, and who knows, maybe with the interest in jam bands among younger music fans, the CD could help a newer generation discover this great American band. © 2003 George D. Graham. All rights reseved. This review may not be copied to another Web site without written permission. © http://georgegraham.com/reviews/feat2003.html

To many, Lowell George was Little Feat. So, when the group reunited to record Let It Roll in 1988 — nine years after his untimely death — it’s understandable that many fans were skeptical. Though the resulting album offered plenty of promise, it wasn’t on par with the band’s legendary outings from the early ’70s, a time when it unleashed such classics as Sailin’ Shoes, Dixie Chicken, and Feats Don’t Fail Me Now. Every few years throughout the ’90s, the reformulated ensemble returned with a collection of new material, and each has been met with the same criticisms that essentially stated that the group had lost some of its focus, and without the guidance of its chief lyricist, its songwriting had lost its edge. Musically, however, Little Feat has continued to develop and grow, and as is evidenced by its latest studio outing Kickin’ It at the Barn, it has never sounded better — at least from an instrumental standpoint. Granted, its songs are still somewhat formulaic, lacking the type of nuance that made George’s contributions so magnificent, and although the group occasionally concocts an ambitious statement — such as the sprawling epic Corazones y Sombras — it inevitably fails to recapture the magic and the brilliance that once surrounded it. Still, Little Feat remains an incredibly tight ensemble, and where the 11 tracks on Kickin’ It at the Barn might have become rote in the hands of a lesser outfit, the group triumphantly relies upon its prowess to propel its material, whipping it into something far more than it rightly should be. Indeed, the same combination of laid-back country-rock, New Orleans-baked jazz, and Southern-fried boogie-blues that has comprised Little Feat’s signature sound since its eponymous debut can be found scattered throughout its latest outing, and the band’s newfound, acoustic-oriented approach yields an earthier tone that perfectly suits its bucolic, yet brawny style. If only it had the songs to match, Little Feat would rise again to the pinnacle upon which it once stood, but for now, fans will have to be content with the nearly flawless mimicry of a band that, however admirably, is merely covering itself. * * * © John Metzger (First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2004, Volume 11, #6), © 2004 The Music Box

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. C. Michael Bailey, All material copyright © 2008 All About Jazz and/or contributing writers/visual artists. All rights reserved.

Ask the common music epicure, and Little Feat reached their zenith with 1978’s Waiting for Columbus. The quintessential live album, mixing the Allman Brothers’ blues based jams with New Orleans rhythms, it also presented Lowell George’s swan song. Which then reaches a contentious point regarding Little Feat’s success. The majority of the band’s great songwriting can be heaped with overflowing romantic panegyrics upon Lowell George. He was ridiculously talented, a synthesist of various sounds, endowed with a Frank Zappa influenced droll wit, and gifted with a tremendous set of lungs. But even in listening to Waiting for Columbus the band’s other members were not just beginning to assert themselves but had started to gestate George’s brain trust. Keyboardist Bill Payne and guitarist Paul Barrere in particular were writing more adventurous material, which had a Steely Dan by way of Nawlins vibe. While the band’s improvisational spirit, their ability to play with the creativity of, say, the Grateful Dead but with the tautness of a really good band, was a direct reflection of Payne and Barrere incessant practicing. Payne in interviews makes the comment that by 1975 George wasn’t around enough to tell them “yes” or “no” on given issues. Likewise, George also didn’t deem rehearsal time a decent use of “time”. Which meant Payne and Barrere had begun to spend their time extemporizing on the themes, waiting for George to appear; or as irony would probably have it, waiting for Columbus. As songwriters the duo have often been undersold as well on Waiting for Columbus. Tracks such as “Time Loves a Hero”, “All that You Dream”, and “Oh Atlanta” prove Payne and Barrere could not necessarily match their savant hero George’s ability, but could at least tap into those spirits. Likewise their songs were versatile and provided a decent accent to George’s dark dank dances of aperitifs, cheap alcohol, and bad cocaine; the true stories of his “time”. It’s this songwriting ability which makes Kickin’ It at the Barn, Little Feat’s latest release successful. The band, more than ever, arguably can jam. They can play for hours, as the average track time of six minutes attests. But the lyrics and the song, of conveying meaning in the context of these extemporaneous whimsies make the difference. “Corazones y Sombras,” by far the album’s best track, takes a Marty Robbins commencement before launching into traditional mariachi motifs, and subsequently vacillating between the two to document a rambunctious rampage through dusty Mexican streets. As the music switches, so does the language from English to Spanish, the harmonies from contemporary three part to ranchero vocal blasts. Payne’s story about the trip almost becomes superceded by the melodies themselves, as they play a bigger role in the fable than the words. Others such as the slinky “I’d Be Lyin” and the sly shuffling “Night on the Town” head back to the standard Little Feat bar, meandering through a humid, brume baking night. There are dancers and harlequins, and a bad downtown bar with Ignatius hanging around donning his standard green hat. The cops accost him, he mentions his mom heading back with some little cakes. “Tortes!” he shouts, shaking his jowls. Vocalist Shawn Murphy mentions “he’s lyin’” and the cop makes Ignatius run, leaving his green hat behind in the wake of Fred Tackett’s Rolling Stone rampage “In a Town Like This”. But by the closing of the hushed acoustic “Bill’s River Blues” the story’s moment and lines have frayed and been lost, the band’s creative mojo exhausted. “Corazones y Sombras” was the centerpiece, the glimpse into the group’s collective brilliance as songwriters and producers. For just one track on Kickin’ It at the Barn, Little Feat expunged the specter of Lowell George. Damn shame they can’t quite do it over the course of a whole album. © Christopher Orman, © 1999-2008 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.


A.O.O.F.C said...



Anonymous said...

Found You Lately!!! What A Blog!!! I Want To Wish You A Good Year Full Of Good Music!!! Thank You Very Much For All The Work You Do Here!!! I Wish You Health!!! Stay Cool!!! Your Friend From Crete-Greece, Lefteris.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi! Lefteris. σας ευχαριστώ πολύ ! Are you a little Feat fan as well? Αυτό είναι θαυμάσιο. απολαύουν της μουσικής and come back soon!

Anonymous said...

More a great LITTLE FEAT album.
Thanks a lot.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Welcome back, ElPasoSuga. Thanks for comment. For the last couple of days, I'm singing "Dixie Chicken"! An amazing band. Come back soon!

Anonymous said...

Yes My Friend I've Been A "LITTLE FEAT" Fan Right From The Start Of The Band, Early Seventies! I Still Have All Their LP's And Frequently Enjoy Them! Thanks Once More! Peace!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hey, Anonymous. Thanks for coming back. Since they built the Ark I have followed Steely Dan, and Little Feat. The Dan's "Royal Scam" and "Aja" albums, and Feat's "The Lasr Record Album" are albums I couldn't live without! ttu soon