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Getting the new Little Feat album and press pack was like entering a musical time warp. One of my first, if not the first record reviews I ever had published was in the University of Louisville's weekly Cardinal, and it was of Little Feat's Dixie Chicken album back in 1973. The press kit was made to look like a faux Kentucky Fried Chicken menu, and I still remember my closing comment: "This is an album a hip Colonel Sanders could get into."
Fast forward to 1990, and Little Feat was back on the tour path after reuniting in 1988. Having seen them in 1988 at Jazzfest (New Orleans) with Bonnie Raitt playing slide guitar, I was psyched to see them here at Cardinal Stadium, on a bill with Jimmy Buffett. The whole "Parrothead" scene had eluded me up to that point, so I went thinking he would open for Feat. Well, now ... as the late Phil Bailey would say on his jazz programs (does anyone remember Louisville used to have daily jazz on the radio?), "Ah, but we digress."
The new Little Feat album, Join the Band, is full of guests, including the aforementioned Mr. Buffett, who is executive producer and whose studio was used for the basic tracks. Amazingly, and unlike many projects where the added performers become the focus, Little Feat shines through. The repertoire includes such Feat classics as "Dixie Chicken" (with hot slide guitar by Sonny Landreth) and "Time Loves a Hero" (with Buffet adding vocals). As many times as these songs have been performed by this band, they sound fresh here.
Local favorite Sam Bush adds fiddle and mandolin to four songs, including "Sailin' Shoes," which has long been part of his repertoire. The New Orleans rhythm 'n' blues classic "Don't Ya Just Know It" (by Huey "Piano" Smith) is another example of Little Feat's fondness for the sounds of the Crescent City.
Woody Guthrie's anthem "This Land Is Your Land" is a timely cover, and features bass by Mike Gordon (Phish, Leo Kottke). Other well-known guests include Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, Chris Robinson, Emmylou Harris, Brooks & Dunn and Bob Seger.
In short, this new release by Little Feat simultaneously evokes the past while pointing toward a bright future for this creatively funky band.
For more details, including complete track and guest information, go to www.429records.com/sites/429records.