Saturday, 22 January 2011

Little Feat

Little Feat formed after future lead singer and guitarist Lowell George left Zappa's Mothers of Invention and through 1971 to 1974 made what I consider to be four perfect albums. They also did lots of lovely stuff after that, and still continue to record albums, however, the classic era is undoubtedly based around Lowell George.
Little Feat is funk, soul, country and blues, all mixed together.

As with any band there were complications, and the other band members were heading in a direction that was heavily interested by jazz fusion, which was of no interest to George. He wrote less and less for the band, and concentrated on his own solo album (the wonderful 'Thanks, I'll Eat It Here').
Lowell died in 1979 at just 34 years old.

Little Feat have continued to play live since then, still consisting of classic lineup members Bill Payne, Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton (even 'new' member Fred Tackett has been in the band since 1987), however drum LEGEND Richie Hayworth sadly died this summer. In a surreal twist, I saw them for the first time the day after Richie's death, and first heard the news via the band themselves. With drum technician Gabe Ford sitting in they played an amazing varied set with early and newer tracks and classic Little Feat jams.

So definitely check out 'Little Feat', 'Sailin Shoes', 'Dixie Chicken' and 'Feats Dont Fail Me Now' but dont dismiss the newer stuff. Even the newer albums like Chinese Work Songs are worth a listen if you're not afraid of a a little latin jazz fusion......

'Rock'n'Roll Doctor' on Whistle Test. The story goes that the band had flew over from America specifically for the show, turned up, plugged in and straight away played this. The ultimate professionals, but never clinical. Sam's backing vocals are classic.

Live performance of 'Cold Cold Cold'

'Roll Um Easy', gorgeous little song.

Plus, our new QI feature!
Fact: Percussionist Sam Clayton is the brother of Merry Clayton of epic wailling on 'Gimme Shelter' fame. There you go, quite interesting.

More info:

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Greetings From L.A.

Tim Buckley

Greetings From L.A.

1. Move With Me
2. Get On Top
3. Sweet Surrender
4. Nighthawkin'
5. Devil Eyes
6. Hong Kong Bar
7. Make It Right

Greetings From L.A. is Tim Buckley's 7th album, and in fairly typical unfortunate Buckley style didn't set commercial fires alight when it was released in 1972. It's a million miles from his early romantic folk albums, and doesn't exactly lead on from the experimental jazz sounds of previous album Starsailor either, so many previously established and recently acquired fans were left a bit baffled......
It is, however an epic, sensual masterpiece of an album, with a confident, strutting Buckley proving his mastery of yet another musical style. Wikipedia calls this his 'Sex Funk' era, which is pretty accurate actually, as you can gather from some of the titles.

The album actually begins with the lyric 'I went down to the meat rack tavern, and I found myself a big ol' healthy girl'. In 'Devil Eyes' he sings about wanting to 'lick all around those stretch marks, lay the tongue between the toes'. In 'Get On Top' he sings that 'When I love you mama I talk in tongues'. 

This is pretty brash stuff, but he pulls it off. In the same sense as 'Foxy Lady'; it's an overtly confident display of male sexuality that just manages to come across as cheeky and playful, not sleazy (which, with lyrics like that, it probably should).

 It feels like a celebration, and Buckley sounds like he's having the time of his life, indulging in random bursts of explosive scatting. The soundtrack is mostly classic piano-based funk with lots of horns and brassy backing vocals, but there's variety too, and gentler tracks 'Sweet Surrender' and 'Hong Kong Bar' offer some time out. 

This is probably a bit of a marmite album. I love it, but I'm sure there are many who find it abrasive and cheesy and all a little bit much.
There's only one way to find out how YOU feel about it.....

'Nighthawkin'' (Wonderful lyrics) and 'Devil Eyes'

'Move With Me'

'Sweet Surrender'

For more information go to

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Blues Run The Game

Jackson C Frank

His story is not a happy one, but his music is delicate and beautiful and definitely deserves a listen.
A fire at his school left 15 of his fellow students dead and an 11 year old Jackson with severe burns and trauma that would haunt him, affecting his mental stability for the rest of his life. He learnt guitar while recuperating and travelled to England on the large insurance payout. 

At this time the English folk scene was thriving and Frank spent time with other Americans who had come to be part of the scene, such as Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton and a then unknown Paul Simon, who produced his eponymous album. Frank also befriended many British folk musicians like John Martyn, John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, using his money and position at the Cousins Club to help them out when possible. At this time he had a relationship with Sandy Denny and was championed by John Peel.

In 1966 his health began to deteriorate and he returned to the US with severe depression, which worsened after the death of his son in the 1970s. In the 1980's he began living on the street and through simple wrong-place-wrong-time bad luck, he was shot in the eye and consequently blinded. In the 1990s, a fan named Jim Abbot sought him out and helped him move into a retirement home in Woodstock where, with renewed enthusiasm, he began to record some new demos. Jackson C Frank died of pneumonia and cardiac arrest in 1999.

Although never really famous, his work has been known through the artists that have covered him; a list including Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, Simon and Garfunkel, Counting Crows and Fairport Convention.

Despite his many misfortunes in life he created some of the loveliest songs I have ever heard. Have a listen.

Perfect little song, 'Blues Run The Game'.

'You Never Wanted Me'

Raw and sound quality lacking but a wonderful much later track called 'Tumble In The Wind (Version 1)'

There is currently no Jackson C Frank website, but an interesting account of his life is provided at through a phone interview with the man himself.

And more info at this Allmusic page