Mazzy loves Little Feat!


If you don’t (yet), her’s a primer on this great American musical institution:


While I’m at it, here’s another. Well, 3/4th’s American anyway; Nick Lowe is English. Little Village (just a coincidence ;-) live is one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. One of the few "Super Groups" (John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, Jim Keltner) who in my book actually lives up to that title. Their single album was a disappointment, they were better as a group on John Hiatt’s fantastic Bring The Family album. Here they are on The Tonight Show, the only time I can remember in which the musical guest is given the time to perform two songs:



@bigtwin - I think they wouldn't be essentially the same performance as Little Feat was a 'jam band' and had instrumental excursions during songs that varied with every show, like the Grateful Dead. Set list might be similar, but those shows will sound different.

Yep Steve, on Discogs I found a Near Mint European pressing of the Little Village LP for 12 British Pounds plus 10 for shipping. It’s better sounding than the US LP, but that doesn’t cure the problem I have with the album: the material (songs).

In an interview with one of the LV members (I think it was John Hiatt, but it may have been Jim Keltner) I learned the reason for the weak material: the rule was no one could come in with already written songs, they would record only songs written in the process of making the album. Though some great songs have been written quickly, that is the exception not the rule. The songs on this album are not up to the standards the group members have in the past established for themselves.

Long ago Mick Jagger sang the "It’s the singer not the song". Nothing beats a great song sung by a great singer, but I would rather listen to a great song sung by a mediocre singer than a mediocre song sung by a great singer. Just as I would rather watch a great movie script acted by mediocre actors than a mediocre script acted by great actors. In the restaurant business the the credo is "Location, location, location." In the music business it’s "Material, material, material." That’s why the music of The Beatles will still be listened to long after the music of most of their contemporaries won’t. The big money in the music business is in song publishing. That’s why Robbie Robertson has become fairly wealthy while the other members of The Band didn’t.

I somehow missed Little Feat back in the 1970’s, not discovering them until the late-80’s. I had heard "Willin" in 1971 on the second Seatrain album and absolutely loved it, but didn’t know it was written by Lowell George. Aw well, better late than never! I Just found a copy of Lowell’s solo album (in NM condition for five bucks!), gotta give it some listens.


@palasr: At the risk of appearing to be posting the following in an attempt to impress ya’ll (Aw geez, here he goes again ;-), it’s just too "fun" to not share it with those who (hopefully) know me better than that.


I couldn’t help but smile when I read you say you had seen the members of Los Straitjackets eating lunch with Nick Lowe. Straitjackets’ bassist Pete Curry (he was the one who appeared subtly Irish, with pale skin and very light strawberry blonde hair. In costume he is the LS member whose mask resembles The Monster From The Black Lagoon) and I met in Homeroom on our first day in 7th grade, and were soon eating lunch together for the next three years (at which time he left Cupertino for Santa Cruz, so as to not have to---like David Crosby---cut his hair. Cupertino High School had a dress code---the boys’ hair couldn’t touch their ears or the collar of their shirt, Santa Cruz didn’t).

Pete was the first musician I met, and in 7th Grade he was playing snare drum in the Hyde Jr. High School Orchestra. I was taking guitar lessons, and we got together with a kid on my block who had an organ, doing some jamming on Ventures-type songs. Pete had a drumset, and after he moved a coupla blocks away from me in the summer between 7th and 8th grades we would walk to his house everyday after school, where I watched him playing along with British Invasion group records (The Kinks were a favorite).

He let me sit down and give it a go, but I had to play left handed on his right handed set (ala Dennis Wilson). He eventually relented, letting me switch around the set. I was soon hooked! In 9th grade he joined his first garage band (The Elements Of Sound), as did I (I replaced the departing Gary Andrijasevich---who was leaving to join the now-legendary Chocolate Watchband---in The Squires. Gary played snare drum in the Cupertino High School marching band and orchestra. He was three years ahead of Pete and I, a Senior while we were Freshmen). I was 14, and had just gotten myself a set of Ludwigs and Zildjian cymbals).

Pete not only gave me start on drums, but he was also the first audiophile I knew. By 1968 he had assembled a little system comprised of a Rek-O-Kut transcription turntable with a 16" green felt-covered platter (acquired from a radio station in Santa Cruz) with Shure M44 cartridge, an H.H. Scott 299 integrated tube amp, and a pair of 8" 2-way Scott bookshelf loudspeakers. Sounded real good to me! I followed his lead, getting myself an AR XA table with M91e cartridge, a Fisher X100A integrated tube amp, and a pair of AR 4x speakers. Even better!

As I was getting into high end audio the 1970’s, Pete was getting into recording. He got himself a Teac 3340 4-trk. machine and some mics, and started doing a lot of recording. I got myself a Revox A77 and a pair of consenser mics, and started making live tapes. In 1978 Pete moved to L.A., and encouraged me to do likewise (he told me about an L.A. band that had just gotten signed---The Knack ;-). In late-76 I had moved to Portland Oregon, to lick my wounds after spending two years recording demos with a songwriter who ended up deciding he wasn’t going to pursue a career in music (NOW ya tell me! ;-) . In Portland I was making a living playing music five nights a week, but playing in bars and taverns was getting old.

I arrived in the fall of that year, moving into the house in North Hollywood that Pete was sharing with the guitar played he was working with (the guy drank Vodka for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and made into only his late-30’s before croaking). He was drumming with the guy, but moved over to bass so we could finally play together in a band. It was a great trio, but the guitarists’ songs were not very commercial (no "hooks"). I moved back to San Jose, and Pete headed out to Arizona, where he worked in construction for a coupla years.

We lost touch for quite a few years, but reunited in L.A. in the mid-90’s, by which time he had become very involved in the SoCal Surf music scene, in which he had made quite a name for himself. He had his own 5-pc. band (The Halibuts), for which he wrote the songs, played lead guitar (Pete plays drums, electric bass, and guitar), produced, and recorded. He had progressed to a 3M 2" 16-trk. recorder, with all the great mics (Telefunken, Sennheiser, Sony, Electrovoice, etc.). He was also playing drums in a little 3-pc. instrumental combo named The Hillbilly Soul Surfers. When the bassist left the band Pete again moved over to bass so’s we could play together.

I believe Pete was still in the HSS when he got a call from Danny Amis of The Straitjackets, offering him the bass player position in the band, which he accepted. It’s hard to believe, but that was a quarter century ago! In the mid-2000's an old friend of Pete and I called and said The Straitjackets were playing on a cruise ship with The Ventures, heading from Long Beach down to Mexico. He talked me into it, and we spent a few days drinking lots of beer and listening to LS and The Ventures every night. The Ventures sounded pretty tired, The Straitjackets on fire.  


Historical correction: If you look up The Chocolate Watchband on Wikipedia, you will see it stated that Pete was the original drummer in the group. That’s incorrect. What happened was the first Watchband show was organized and announced, but as fate would have it on the day of the show Gary suddenly became very ill, so Pete was hurriedly brought in to sub for him (the older brother of a friend of Pete and I was the organist in The Watchband). It was held near the beach in Santa Cruz, a mobile generator brought in to power the amps and PA. Garage Band fanatics turn green with envy when I tell them I was in attendance at the first Watchband show.

@bdp24 - Great story!  Thanks for sharing.  Los Straitjackets plays in the area frequently, as Eddie Angel was born in Albany NY.  Aforementioned dive bar is in Troy NY (best chicken wings in the entire area, but I'm biased) and has a small concert venue across the street called Hangar on The Hudson.  Quite a few interesting acts pass through those doors - NRBQ, Commander Cody, JD McPherson, The Cactus Blossoms, etc.  Not bad for a capacity of 250.

@palasr: Now THAT’S a hip club! NRBQ came through Portland a while back, sounding great as ever.

Back when the albums were new Pete really liked the first Nick Lowe album, but I liked his second more. Dave Edmunds had become involved with Nick by then, to the benefit of both of them (Dave isn’t a songwriter, but he’s a hell of a guitarist and producer). Actually, on Dave’s second album (Subtle As A Flying Mallet) each LP side ends with a live cut, with Dave being backed by The Brinsley Schwarz Band at a club in Wales (Dave is Welsh), of which Nick was the bassist. And then Nick and Dave did Rockpile together. Now THERE was a band!

The last time I saw Nick live was at The Pantages Theater in Hollywood (a great Art Deco room), with his regular (at that time) band, all English guys. The reason he engages the services of The Straitjackets now is that they and he are both on Yep Rock Records, a great label with a fantastic roster of artists. Also on the bill at the Pantages were Dann Penn & Spooner Oldham, who were just as wonderful as you may imagine. Quite a night of hearing superior songs being played and sung!