This is what Little Feat fans have been waiting years for: a series dedicated to live and rare recordings. Problem is, there are two kinds of Little Feat fans -- those who love the band unconditionally, soaking up recordings made in the '80s and '90s as easily as those from the '70s, and those who love the band, but only when Lowell George is around. The first group will treasure Raw Tomatos, Vol. 1, along with its companion, Ripe Tomatos, Vol. 1, while the latter will grudgingly accept both volumes, since the Lowell recordings are spread among the two double-disc sets. It's hard not to think they'd have a point, since each volume flows identically, with about half-a-disc of vintage George material, before leading to a disc-and-a-half of post-reunion recordings. If this were one volume, sequenced this way, it'd be easy to accept and cherish anything you've been given, since there has been no archival Little Feat release prior to this. Simultaneous releases, sequenced similarly, however, make you wonder why all the George-era recordings were on one stellar disc, and the rest put to another series. Even if you're a fan wondering this, you will purchase it anyway, because the George material is so good -- a spare, funky "Crack in Your Door" with great piano by Bill Payne; a demo of "Trouble"; a nasty "Apolitical Blues"; an addictive lo-fi demo of "Fat Man in the Bathtub" with different lyrics; Bonnie Raitt singing on "Sailin' Shoes"; and a wonderful throwaway "Ass for Days," which runs less than a minute. The rest of the material is uniformly good, sometimes delightfully so ("Those Feat'll Steer Ya Wrong Sometimes," a gritty version of "Strawberry Flats"), but never surprising, like the best of their '70s recordings. This is all very good music, but the George stuff is genius -- and while you grab genius where you can, it's hard not to wish it was distilled for those that just wanted to hear that, instead of everything else.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
feat: Bonnie Raitt
Track Listing - Disc 2