Bill Payne - keyboards, vocals; Paul Barrere - vocals, lead guitar; Ritchie Hayward - drums, vocals; Kenny Gradney - bass, vocals; Sam Clayton - percussion; Craig Fuller - vocals, rhythm guitar; Fred Tackett - lead guitar, vocals
Little Feat was started by singer/songwriter/guitarist Lowell George (a former member of the 1960s garage band, the Standells), bassist Roy Estrada, keyboardist Bill Payne, and drummer Ritchie Hayward. At the time, George and Estrada were members of the Mothers of Invention, and Payne and Hayward were among L.A.'s top session players. At the urging of Zappa himself, the band came together as a vehicle for George's eclectic songwriting—a mix of rock, blues, country, and jazz, wrapped within a certain clear pop sensibility. They landed a deal with Zappa's label at the time, Warner Brothers, but their first two albums, although critically acclaimed, were only modest sellers.
By the time they began recording their third album, Dixie Chicken, in 1973 (and the source of the name, the Dixie Chicks), the group had replaced Estrada with bassist Kenny Gradney and added guitarist/vocalist Paul Barrere and percussionist Sam Clayton. This six-person lineup would last for the rest of the decade and make a number of successful and memorable albums, including Feats Don't Fail Me Now, Time Loves a Hero, and the brilliant double live LP, Waiting for Columbus. The band fell apart when George left to record and tour as a solo act. Then, when he died of a heart attack following a show on his debut solo tour, it appeared as though Little Feat was gone for good. Over the course of the next decade, several Little Feat-inspired bands surfaced and the various members pursued interesting projects, but no-one seemed to fill the void left by Little Feat. Despite no longer existing as a band, their audience and appreciation for their music continued to grow.
After nearly a decade of hoping, Feat fans were finally rewarded in 1988, when Little Feat phase two began, now with Payne and Barrere firmly at the helm. This show marks the introduction of the revised Little Feat, now with the addition of former Pure Prairie League vocalist Craig Fuller, whose vocals were strikingly similar to George's, and guitarist Fred Tackett adding to the power of this incredible band. Performing strong, new material as well as a near-perfect overview of the original band's accomplishments, both this late set and the early show display an inspired band in remarkably great form. The chemistry of the core band remains and if anything, they sound tighter and confident as ever.
Thanks to the pristine quality of Bill Graham's recordings and the band playing at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium before a San Francisco audience, this is a must-listen for all Feat fanatics. The band always kicked up a storm in San Francisco and after warming up with an early show that is nearly as impressive, they cut loose with a late show that continuously cooks from the first funky notes of "Fat Man In The Bathtub" to the rip-roaring set-closer "Tripe Face Boogie" nearly 90 minutes later. In between is nearly everything a Feat fan could want, and although Lowell George is certainly missed, his spirit permeates this performance, not only with his songs, but the way Craig Fuller seemingly channels Lowell in his voice. It's downright spooky at times, but also a delight to hear these musicians live on stage, together again after far too long.