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Little Feat: Sam’s Place Review 

Little Feat was originally formed by Lowell George in 1969 and disbanded in 1979 shortly before his death. Surviving members resurrected the band in the late 1980s and Sam’s Place is the first new studio album by Little Feat in twelve years and the 18th in the band’s 55 year career. Little Feat has combined a diversity of genres from rock and country to blues and funk to create its own unique sound. Bill Payne is an original member from the days when Lowell George led the band and is an integral part of the current configuration.

Current band membership includes Payne on keyboards and vocals with percussionist Sam Clayton singing lead on the entire album along with the rest of the band providing backing. Members include guitarists Fred Tacket and Scott Sharrard, bass guitarist Kenny Gradney, and drummer Tony Leone. Additional help was provided by special guests like saxophonist Art Edmaiston, Mark Franklin on trumpet, Michael “Bull” LoBue on harmonica along with Bonnie Raitt as a co-vocalist on one song. Sam’s Place is Little Feat’s first blues album and May 17 is the release date on Hot Tomato Productions/MRI. It was recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillips’ recording studio in August 2023.

The album has nine tracks that were recorded live in the studio with the band performing like a perfectly running unit. Bill Payne originally came up with the idea for the album followed by other band members coming up with their own ideas. “Got My Mojo Working” is the final cut and was recorded live in concert.

The opening number is “Milkman,” a new song that was co-written by Sam Clayton, Scott Sharrard, and Fred Tackett. Sam’s gravelly voice belts out the lyrics penned by his wife Joni who was inspired by their nephew. The horn section leads with a pulsating rhythm punctuated by multiple screaming guitars. “You’ll Be Mine” was written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961. Bonnie Raitt suggested the song when she was backstage at a Little Feat show. Clayton’s raw, guttural and deeply emotive voice almost sounded like the Wolf himself.

“You so sweet, you so fine

How I wish, you were mine”

“Long Distance Call” was originally written, recorded, and released in 1951 on “Chess Records” by Muddy Waters. Bonnie Raitt sings a duet with Clayton that resonates with slide guitar and harmonica riffs. “Don’t Go No Further” was written by Willie Dixon and was first recorded by Muddy Waters in 1956. The song itself is a practical lesson about love that was similar to another Willie Dixon song titled “You Need Love,” which was released in 1962 and influenced Led Zeppelin’s song “Whole Lotta Love.” The tune is a rousing call and response get down and dirty blues driven interpretation with guitar and harmonica embellishments. “Can’t Be Satisfied” was originally written and performed by Muddy Waters in 1948 and released on the Chess record label. Little Feat’s execution of the song is true to the original while amplifying it sonically with slide guitar riffs, keyboard runs, and gravelly vocals.

“Well babe, I can’t never be satisfied

And I just can’t keep from crying”

“Last Night” was written by Walter Jacobs AKA Little Walter as a showcase for his harmonica prowess. Payne’s vocals are reminiscent of Howlin’ Wolf and  LoBue’s soulful sounding harmonica provides a melodic airy sound. Payne’s keyboards along with the rhythm section provide a driving beat punctuated by searing guitar runs. “Why People Like That” was written by Bobby Charles and recorded by Muddy Waters in 1975. Charles later recorded his own version in 1998 for the album Secrets of the Heart. Little Feat play it as a rollicking ragtime romp that blends Southern boogie with Clayton’s raw and ragged vocals and Scott Sharrard’s slide guitar.

“They take your love and your money

They take your shugar and your honey”

“You jump, jump, jump everywhere” is what “Mellow Down Easy” describes as the way that you deal with the stresses of life. The song was another one written by blues legend Willie Dixon and originally recorded in 1958 by blues harmonica legend Little Walter with Dixon on bass guitar. Little Feat’s version of the song is an intense hard driving electrified guitar driven interpretation with the entire band jamming. The final cut on the album is “Got My Mojo Working” originally written by Preston Foster in 1956. Ann Cole released a recording of the song in 1957 but after Muddy Waters performed and recorded it at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960 it became a blues standard. It’s a live recording from Little Feat’s performance at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado in 2022. The song is a combination of gravelly vocals, raging harmonica, screaming guitars, driving drums and harmonious call and response vocals.

“Got my mojo working but it just won’t work on you”

Sam’s Place is a testament to the band’s enduring legacy and their deep-rooted connection to the blues. From Sam Clayton’s soulful vocals to Fred Tackett and Scott Sharrard’s blistering guitar work and Payne’s keyboard runs the result captures the essence of the blues. Their rocking interpretation of blues classics cements their position as contemporary torchbearers of the blues tradition.

The Review 9/10

– Milkman
– Long Distance Call
– Can’t Be Satisfied
– Why People Like That
– Mellow Down Easy

The Big Hit

– Long Distance Call

Bob Gersztyn

As a teenager in Detroit, Michigan during the early 1960’s Bob Gersztyn saw many Motown and other R&B artists including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. After his discharge from the army in 1968 he attended school on the GI Bill and spent the next 3 years attending concerts and festivals weekly. It was the seminal period in Detroit rock & roll that Bob witnessed spawning the MC5 and Stooges along with shows featuring everyone from Jimi Hendrix and the “Doors” to B. B. King and John Lee Hooker. In 1971 He moved to Los Angeles, California to finish his schooling where he became an inner city pastor promoting and hosting gospel concerts. He moved to Oregon in 1982 and began photographing and reviewing concerts for music publications. Since that time he has published myriads of photographs, articles, interviews, and contributed to 2 encyclopedias and published 6 books on everything from music to the military. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Bob%20Gersztyn His rock & roll photo art is available for sale on Etsy @: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ConcertPhotoImages?ref=seller-platform-mcnav Bob may be contacted personally at bobgersztyn@gmail.com

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