Sailin' Shoes

Little Feat

Warner Brothers Records, 1972

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, discovering greatness takes more than one look.

The first time I ever heard of Little Feat was when Van Halen covered "A Apolitical Blues" on a B-side. I was so intrigued with what I heard that I trudged down to the used record store and bought the only Little Feat record they had in stock, their debut album. But when I put it on the turntable, I was disillusioned with what I heard. This was the band I was so interested in discovering. No... this... sucks... take... the...stereo.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

About two years later, I found their second album, Sailin' Shoes, on sale at the local music store. For some strange reason, I decided to ignore the bad experience I had before and bought the tape.

What a difference a year made. This 1972 effort is undoubtedly their finest hour. Lowell George and crew learned from all the mistakes they made in the past, and put together an eclectic mixture of all different forms of music.

The opening track, "Easy To Slip," kicks off with a different beat, but is a solid piece of pop-rock that I never get tired of hearing. But just when you think this is the new direction of Little Feat, The grinding blues/funk of "Cold Cold Cold" drags you in an entirely different direction. George's slightly hoarse lead vocals enhance the track and the mood of the music.

From then on, every single song takes you on a different direction on music's road. "Trouble" is a light, airy piece of country folk featuring solid acoustic guitar work, while "Tripe Face Boogie" makes you want to get up and dance. The original version of "A Apolitical Blues" is outstanding, while "Teenage Nervous Breakdown" pulls out all the stops as a solid rocker.

The biggest surprise is a reprise of "Willin'" - a shocker because it was on their first album. To repeat a song the very next effort may seem like a sign of lacking creativity, but I would rather think that George knew the first version was lame, and he wanted a second chance to get it right. Good news - it worked.

With rare exception, all of Sailin' Shoes shines - the one exception being the free-form performance of "Texas Rose Cafe." The song lacks direction from the beginning, and seems to make little sense lyrically or musically. But this is a small flaw on an otherwise great album.

Sailin' Shoes may turn some people off because of the way Little Feat jumps from genre to genre, but this one is worth giving a fair shake. I'm glad I did.

Rating: A-

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.