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Reviews: Little Feat 'Waiting for Columbus' live box set a deep dive; Jeff Beck & Johnny Depp's '18' a major misfire

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Little Feat, 'Waiting for Columbus' Super Deluxe Edition

(Rhino Records)

Few bands can match Little Feat when it comes to creating first-rate music that both defined and transcended its time — or when it comes to enduring tumult and tragedy.

The fact Little Feat persevered, despite having disbanded twice in its first four years of existence, suggests its members realized their unique musical chemistry was worth the extra effort.

A quartet that soon morphed into a six-man ensemble, the group’s seamless blend of rock, blues, funk, country, soul, boogie, gospel, Latin, jazz and New Orleans-drenched R&B often exceeded the sum of its parts. Superior musicianship and stellar songwriting were showcased on a string of classic Little Feat albums, including 1972’s “Sailin’ Shoes,” 1973’s “Dixie Chicken,” 1974’s “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” and 1975’s “The Last Record Album.”

Discerning listeners and admiring musicians took note.

 

The diverse array of artists who have covered Little Feat songs includes Linda Ronstadt (“Willin’,” “Roll ‘Um Easy”), Robert Palmer (“Spanish Moon,” “Trouble,” “Sailin’ Shoes”) Bonnie Raitt (“Takin’ My Time,” “Fool Yourself”), the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir (“Easy to Slip”), Taj Mahal (“Feats Don’t Fail Me Now”), Nazareth (“Teenage Nervous Breakdown”) The Byrds (“Truck Stop Girl”), Van Halen (“A Apolitical Blues”), Eddie Money (“Rock and Roll Doctor”) and more.

The vibrant legacy this Los Angeles-bred band created in its prime is celebrated anew on the eight-CD, deluxe edition of “Waiting for Columbus.” Recorded at concerts in London and Washington, D.C., it was originally released in 1978 as a double-live album and featured the five-piece Tower of Power brass section on some selections. By the end of that year, Little Feat had imploded, nine years after being launched.

The latest edition of the band — three of its key former members are deceased — is now on a 45th anniversary “Waiting for Columbus” tour.

The tour is a celebration of Little Feat’s only million-plus-selling album. For longtime fans, it is also an elegy. Singer-guitarist Lowell George, the band’s mastermind, died of a drug-fueled heart attack in 1979. Drummer Richie Hayward died from cancer-related causes in 2010. Guitarist-singer Paul Barrere died of liver cancer in 2019.

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