Skin It Back (DVD)
Eagle Rock, 2009
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/24/2009
Bill Payne, Lowell George, and ex-Mothers Of Invention bass player Roy Estrada formed Little Feat in 1969. Paul Barrere joined in 1972 as a second guitarist/vocalist, and his interplay with George enabled the group to become stars. Albums such as Dixie Chicken, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, and The Last Record Album established their eclectic brand of southern-fried rock, blues, R&B, and jazz.
Little Feat has always been recognized as superior live performers. Their ability to jam and improvise has been compared favorably to the Grateful Dead and has kept their concerts interesting, entertaining, and best of all, unpredictable.
Skin It Back was recorded in 1977 as a part of German Television’s Rockpalast series. It features Little Feat’s classic lineup: Payne, George, Barrere, plus drummer Richard Hayward, percussionist Sam Clayton, and new bassist Kenny Gradney. Shortly after this concert, this lineup recorded Waiting For Columbus, which is one of the better live albums of the ‘70s and probably their strongest release.
This concert has been released in various forms, previously including VHS and bootleg versions, but here the sound and video have been remastered to give it an excellent quality. It is all the more amazing when you consider the technological limitations of 1977. In addition, the liner notes are extensive and give a fine history of the group and the concert.
The foundation of their sound is Payne’s keyboards and the double percussion, with Barrere and George then layering in their guitars. Though when evaluating the great guitar players in rock history, many times Lowell George is forgotten, he nevertheless had a unique slide technique, which is on display here.
They cover all the bases on this DVD. “Skin It Back/Fat Man In The Bathtub” is funky blues. “Old Folks Boogie” is a slow blues piece, while “Dixie Chicken” is extended close to fifteen minutes and gives the group members room to stretch out individually. Meanwhile, “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” and “Triple Face Boogie” both receive a funky rock treatment.
Skin It Back is a fine look at the ‘70s-era Little Feat. Lowell George would be dead within two years of this concert, but the other five members – with an addition or two – have carried on to the present day.
If you want to see one of the better rock bands of the ‘70s in their live element, then this is a DVD for you.