Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Not Fade Away - Reissue Review from Issue #32 March-April 2001

Little Feat

Hotcakes And Outtakes: 30 Years Of Little Feat (Rhino / Warner Archives (4-CD box))

Little Feat has really been a series of different bands with only two constants, keyboardist Bill Payne and drummer Richie Hayward, and a long shadow cast by the late Lowell George. Hotcakes And Outtakes allows for some perspective on the band’s three-decade career. It also demonstrates how fragmented their history really was, and still is.

Little Feat emerged from the Frank Zappa wing of the late ’60s L.A. music scene. George had played with Zappa’s Mothers of Invention but left to front his own band. After he met Payne, Little Feat formed as a quartet, adding ex-Mother Roy Estrada on bass and Hayward on drums. Disc one begins with this unit, which produced two albums that straddled a midway point between Zappa and The Band, bizarre lyrics anchored by strong roots in blues and country.

A few years later the band reorganized, replacing Estrada with bassist Kenny Gradney and adding percussionist Sam Clayton, making the band a multiracial unit. The arrival of second guitarist Paul Barrere allowed George to focus on his incredible slide playing. Starting with the Dixie Chicken album, this ensemble created the New Orleans-inspired country funk sound that has defined them ever since. Disc one concludes with this lineup’s early high points.

Even though the second version of Little Feat produced six albums, George’s decaying health began to limit his contributions to the band around the third album. Before he died in 1977, after years of hedonistic living, the creative duties had already fallen to Payne and Barrere.

Although Barrere mostly kept to the George sound, Payne discarded the grit, preferring the clean studio sound popularly practiced by the likes of Steely Dan. For George stalwarts, the second disc shows the band’s fall from grace; only tracks from George’s solo record and the Feat album released shortly after his death provide any delectable hints beneath Payne’s polish.

The band broke up again after George’s death, but the surviving members regrouped in the late ’80s, making records for a succession of different labels with a revolving slate of members. Disc three serves as a “hits” package for this unit.

Disc four provides delights galore for the George wing. Focusing on the band’s early era, the disc introduces previously unreleased songs, alternate versions, and George demos. Some of this material (such as “Doriville”) is revelatory, but the demos are the real gems, showing how George generated his uniquely funky compositions with just a guitar and a rudimentary rhythm machine.

Fans of Little Feat (and the band members themselves) remain divided as to whether Little Feat was Lowell George’s vision or a collective. Regardless, Hotcakes And Outtakes gives all sides their due, leaving the listeners to judge for themselves.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #32 March-April 2001

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Vancouver International Folk Festival Day Two (Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC - July 19th, 2014)
    While Friday night at the Vancouver Folk Festival focuses on main stage performances, the rest of the weekend on the sprawling festival grounds of Jericho Beach is as notable for its smaller workshop performances. This was especially true this year. This particular Saturday started with the official public announcement of Joan Baez's cancellation. Perha […]
  • Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery - Man Is Born for Trouble (Album Review)
    The origin story of Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery is pivotal for an appreciation of Powell’s music. The name, inspired by the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery, the first silent western committed to celluloid, evokes Powell’s affinity for history, American aestheticism, and art that has passed through generations and endured technological revol […]
  • By the Time You Read This, It'll Be Over: A Pre-Newport Ramble
    Missing the first night -- likely the best of the three, given my taste and interest -- is sort of a bummer. But, on the other hand there's still two more days and nights to wander around the festival site, to hopefully discover a new act or the reinvention of something old. And, to be completely honest, the music and performances will run second to jus […]
  • Well Crafted, The “Not To Be Missed” Music Festival of 2014
    Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill located in pristine Harrodsburg, Kentucky plays host to what is shaping up to be the best Americana music festival of 2014.  Well Crafted, August 8-9 2014, couples some of the best musical talent in our beloved scene with the fine frothy libations of Kentucky’s local Craft Beer creators.  Shaker Steps Productions’ Derek Feldma […]
  • Five Questions: Bry Webb
    After years of blasting it out as a member of the Constantines, singer/songwriter Bry Webb turned it all down a few notches for his new solo effort, Free Will. Written as a something of a meditation on his new role as a father to a son, the set is quieter, to be sure, but it's not without some edge. After all, you can take the boy out of the rock, but y […]
  • Your Interview with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris
    A couple of weeks ago, we announced a contest to give away some copies of the Jayhawks' remastered and reissued editions of Sound of Lies, Smile, and Rainy Day Music. In the process, we asked you to pose questions you'd like to see Jayhawks founding member Gary Louris answer. Fifty folks entered and Jayhawk Gary Louris… […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter