Little Feat

Live at the Rams Head

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By June 2001, when Little Feat marked the start of summer with six shows in three nights at the 200-seat Rams Head club in Annapolis, MD, shows culled for this two-disc live album, the reconstituted band had been together longer than the original one led by Lowell George from 1969 until his untimely death in 1979. Organized in 1988, this version of the group, featuring original members Richie Hayward and Bill Payne plus other longstanding recruits, by now had its own history, which included the tenure of lead singer Craig Fuller, replaced in 1995 by Shaun Murphy. The Rams Head shows were billed as "an acoustic evening with Little Feat," probably appropriate to the tiny venue. But that didn't mean that the band was going for the kind of radical rearrangements of its material characteristic of the "unplugged" fad of the 1990s. All it meant was that the guitarists were playing acoustic instruments. (Payne's synthesizer didn't seem to have been counted as electric for some reason.) Hence, for the most part these discs present the usual Little Feat, circa 2001, albeit with the vocals a bit more distinct and the occasional acoustic picking moment such as a bluegrass sequence highlighting Fred Tackett's mandolin playing on "Cajun Girl." Since they weren't introducing new material, the usual objection of purists, that George's songwriting is sorely missing in the second-generation Little Feat, didn't apply quite as strongly. But those purists still might be irritated that the band freely mixed numbers from the George era with more recent compositions and that they didn't play the old songs all that enthusiastically, particularly George's signature song, "Willin'," which was essentially thrown away. This was a band more interested in spending ten minutes looking for something new in "Let It Roll," a song from their reunion album.

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