Monday, 6 August 2018

Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus (1978)


There is only one Little Feat live album from their glory years of the mid/late seventies. This one. Now released in remastered and extended "deluxe" format, it has this seminal funky rock band captured at their best Unfortunately, it is just a few years after their absolutely peak years, but, for me, it still sounds revelatory. Indeed, so many of the tracks put their studio versions to shame (particularly as the studio albums are still in dire need of a remastering). Most of the songs are extended, with added little bits of virtuoso musicianship added to them. Yes, some of them extend a little too far into "jam" territory, but that is not really a bad thing, it is what you expect from a seventies live album, to be honest. It is recorded over a couple of gigs from 1977, from London's Rainbow and Washington, DC, so it is not one full concert recording, but the continuity is still there and it sounds like a full show, to be fair.


There are lots of earlier gigs from Little Feat, from 1973, 1974 and 1975 floating around on "legal" bootlegs derived from Radio Broadcasts - the "Transmission Impossible" three gig set, which includes "American Cutie" from 1973, "Electric Lycanthrope" from 1974 and "Hellzapoppin'" from 1975. "AC" suffers from hissy sound, "H" is muffled and desperately low volume, while "EL' is the best of them, sound-wise. These catch the band at the height of their powers, while this 1978 recording is apparently from when the band were descending into decline. You would never have believed it. They sound great. The "bootleg ones", while being from the group's halcyon years do not compensate enough, for me, for the vastly superior sound on this 1978 one. I will stick with this one, for sonic reasons. The band sound full, bassy and pumping, as they should.

So many tracks, too many to analyse track by track, which would be pretty pointless, but a few of highlights are "All That You Dream" and a stunning, bluesy romp in "Old Folks' Boogie". "Fat Man In The Bathtub" sounds great too, and the band sound like they are enjoying it. "Dixie Chicken" is stretched out to a rocking nearly nine minutes, and is far more rock than country in this incarnation, with some great piano and brass improvisation. It segues into a barnstorming "Tripe Face Boogie", which is an exhilarating, pulsating delight. A highly recommended live album.


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