Down on the Farm
Performer: Little Feat
Artist: David Lindley; Robben Ford; Gordon Dewitty; Jerry Jumonville; Lee Thornburg; Bonnie Raitt; Fran Payne
Producer: Lowell George...
Distributor: WEA (Distributor)
Notes: Little Feat: Lowell George, Paul Barrere (vocals, guitars); Bill Payne (vocals, keyboards); Kenny Gradney (bass); Richard Hayward (drums); Sam Clayton (percussion, conga). Just before this album was completed, singer-songwriter Lowell George died of a heart attack. The album was completed by the rest of the band, and was announced as the last Little Feat album, though the remaining members resumed playing as Little Feat in the late 1980's. As Little Feat were working on their seventh studio album, Lowell George was just marginally part of the group, spending much of his time completing his solo album, Thanks I'll Eat It Here. While he was touring in support of the record, he suffered a massive heart attack and died, leaving behind an uncompleted record with Little Feat. After mourning, the band regrouped and patched together Down on the Farm, the last album of the Lowell-led era. Since George was preoccupied during the recording, it's not surprising that he only makes himself heard on occasion on the album. It's also not surprising that the group was suffering, not just from the loss of a colleague, but from a lack of direction. They were drifting on Time Loves a Hero, after all, and while this is musically a little more straightforward than that fusion-flavored affair, it still is fairly uninspired. The surfaces are very slick, as should be expected with late-'70s Californian rock, which again doesn't let the group breathe, but the real problem is that the material is just not terribly memorable. Given the circumstances surrounding the completion of Down on the Farm, it's fairly easy to forgive the band this misstep, but it doesn't make the album any less disheartening. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Los Angeles' Little Feat served up a polymorphic gumbo of New Orleans funk, southern boogie, and blues rock with the soulful slide guitar, worn voice, and tremendous country-tinged songwriting of leader Lowell George as its main ingredients. Founded by George and pianist Bill Payne in 1969, Little Feat released a couple of straighter blues rock albums before embracing an infectious, Meters-like groove in their rhythm section (Roy Estrada and Richie Hayward of the Mothers of Invention). Despite a run of critically acclaimed albums throughout the '70s--and George's continuing excellence as a songwriter--the band broke up in 1979 shortly after George died. Reformed versions of Little Feat continued to release records and tour in the ensuing decades.
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