Since Little Feat re-formed after a 10-year hiatus following the death of cofounder Lowell George, the band has expanded its repertoire in a variety of directions. Join The Band is the culmination of decades of exploration and collaboration (without undue alliteration). What JTB lacks in new original material it makes up for with fresh makeovers of classics, along with Featerized covers displaying enormous range and virtuosic musicianship. These sessions were hosted by Jimmy Buffett in his Shrimp Boat Sound studio in Key West, and there is a laid-back feel on some tracks. But there's also a freewheeling vibe -- it sounds like making this album was a boatload of fun. Among the Feat classics, Dave Matthews growls and yowls through a slow but soulful Fat Man in the Bathtub, and Sonny Landreth pays tribute to Lowell's legendary slide guitar on Dixie Chicken -- the shortest serving since 1973. The funky Spanish Moon is more stretched out. Vocals are shared by Feat percussionist Sam "Big Willie Johnson" Clayton, former Feat singer Craig Fuller and guest Vince Gill. The spooky jam is as close as JTB gets to the live Feat sound. On the other hand, the much loved and covered Willin' gets the full country flavor of Brooks & Dunn. If they still have jukeboxes in truckstops, this version is made to order. The highlight in the remake category is Sailin' Shoes. The first section sounds familiar, with a surprisingly earthy Emmylou Harris trading vocals with an inspired Shaun Murphy. Then it accelerates into the up-tempo version originated by bluegrass wizard Sam Bush on fiddle, joined by Bela Fleck on banjo and Featster Fred Tackett on mandolin. If they don't get your toes tappin', please consult a physician. It's tough to mention only a few of the great covers. Something in the Water, with Bob Seger singing at full throttle, is the hardest rocker. The rollicking Don't Ya Just Know It has been showing up on Feat set lists. A couple of others have been live Feat staples for years, starting with The Weight. This is a tremendous recording, with kudos to Feat keyboardist Bill Payne. Just as The Band original had Garth Hudson's organ overlaid by Richard Manuel's piano, Bill has that sweet Hammond swooping under his amazing piano. It's also ideally suited for Paul Barrere's voice. The Weight may be an impossible song to screw up, but here it is sublime. Another live staple is This Land Is Your Land. There is no better example of what makes Little Feat one of the great American bands. This is not the folky sing-around-the-campfire tune I taught fifth graders to play on guitar. It's a funky, full throated tour de force, with nasty acoustic slide work from Paul and Shaun singing her heart out. In the months after 9/11 the live performances were tearjerkers for more than a few of us. I would give a lot to see the look on Woody Guthrie's face at the sound of the Feat's take. If you are new to Little Feat or want to introduce a friend, Join the Band is a great place to start. If you're a featfan wary of a release with no new material, don't make the mistake of passing this one up. It's got lumped into the classic rock category, for understandable reasons, but I think of it as Americana: rock and jazz, funk and blues, country and bluegrass... it's all here and it's all uniquely Little Feat.
I would recommend this to a friend
This is an amazing cd with a stellar cast of all-stars aiding the great Little Feat. Some great new versions of older songs, but with a fresh twist in having some of the biggest names in the music biz on board. Definitely give this a listen!
I would recommend this to a friend