This British guitar whiz kid made his mark in the late 1970s replacing James Burton as lead guitarist in the Emmylou Harris band. A lot of his work in the Hot Band was a straight copy of Burton's style, but he also had a flashy note-clustering technique which was distinctively his own. This album, though it hasn't aged well, is still one of my favorites from the era -- all the key players from the Emmylou/Happy Sack scene are on here, and Brian Ahearn's elaborate, multitracked production carries over from her albums. In retrospect, it's overly florid and a bit goofy, but Lee recognized his own silliness, and the hyperactive twang of "Country Boy," for example, has more than just a little nudge-nudge, wink-wink to it. Really fun if you can hang with the slick production.
Funky roots rockers Little Feat embodied the eclectic tendencies of the '70s, and the uneasy fate of artists who don't fit neatly into one little niche. Founded in 1969 by two SoCal alumni of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Little Feat laid down a sleek mix of funk, fusion, country and Southern rock. They were also possibly the hippest, most versatile rock band of the 1970s -- as loose and rhythmic as the Meters, but also as loud and rowdy as the Allman Brothers. The band flourished on freeform radio during the '70s and established itself as one of the best live acts in the country, grooving along until singer Lowell George's untimely death in the early '80s. This 4-CD retrospective includes two discs of classic material, a third of rarities and outtakes, and a fourth featuring the 1990s work of the reformed outfit, this is a lavish treat for longtime fans, though it might be a little too much for newcomers. The band's original albums are also worth tracking down... in fact, they might be a little more fun!
Little Feat "Little Feat" (Warner, 1971)
Little Feat "Sailin' Shoes" (Warner, 1972)
Probably their best-known album, this includes the absolutely killer title track, and the equally dazzling "Two Trains," probably two of the tightest songs they ever recorded. This was their third album, recorded after the band briefly fell apart and came together again... Like most of their records, it's kind of uneven, but packed with interesting material and great musicianship. Worth it for those two songs alone.
Little Feat "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" (Warner, 1974)
Little Feat "Time Loves A Hero" (Warner, 1975)
Another uneven goodie from their early catalog... The title track is a classic, other nice tunes include the toss-off weeper, "Missin' You," "Old Folks Boogie," and their version of Terry Allen's "New Delhi Freight Train," one of their best "hits" of the decade. I like this album, but I also recognize its faults.
Little Feat "The Last Record Album" (Warner, 1975)
Little Feat "Waiting For Columbus" (Warner, 1978)
One of the great live albums of the 1970s...
Little Feat "Hoy-Hoy!" (Warner, 1981)
I'm sure that many hardcore Feat fans distain this album as being too wimpy, or too poppy, but I totally dig it. There's plenty of great material on here, fun songs and strong performances. Plus, it's one of the band's most cohesive records -- if you're into one song on here, chances are you'll like the rest. From the super-goofy title track to the heartfelt weeper, "Be One Now," this one's a winner.
Jerry Jeff Walker's old backup band, which, steeped in the mystique of their association with Jerry Jeff, managed to wrangle a couple of LPs out of their record label before getting shuffled quietly under the rug. This disc collects material from their first two LPs, the highlight track is, of course, the classic "London Homesick Blues," with the chorus: "I wanna go home with the armadilla/with country music from Amarilla to Abeline/the friendliest people and the purtiest women you ever seen..." It was the only time on record that Lost Gonzo songwriter Gary P. Nunn outshone Jerry Jeff as a performer... at least until he pursued a solo career on his own label. Nunn's solo records throughout the '80s and early '90s have been uniformly high-quality.
The Lost Gonzo Band "Rendezvous" (Amazing Records, 1991)
The Lost Gonzo Band "Hands Of Time" (Vireo, 1995)
Hick Music Index