Little Feat Join The Band Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

One for completists only.

Michael Quinn 2008

Join The Band arrives 29 years almost to the day that Little Feat founder Lowell George passed away at the age of 34.

What he might have made of this decidedly relaxed trawl by surviving band members through the back catalogue in the company of assorted 'friends' is probably best left unanswered. A nod towards modernity throws in material new to the band, most notably in the shape of Wood Guthrie's anthemic This Land is Your Land.

A cautionary word to begin with: if the word 'friends' has fabled Feat collaborators such as Dylan, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson or John Lee Hooker leaping excitedly to mind, heightening the anticipation of what is to come, prepare to be disappointed.

The brightest luminary to be found here is Emmylou Harris who brings the curtain down on the 14-track compendium with an agreeable enough cover of 1972's Sailin' Shoes, the title track of the band's second album. Arguably, Bob Seger could also lay claim to A-List credentials, and certainly he delivers a red-blooded version of the Jeffrey Steele penned Something In The Water with all the country-rocker credentials he can muster.

After that, well… it really all depends on whether you remember Little Feat as something more than mere bluesy, alt-country crooners. And whether your boat is floated by the thought of Vince Gill (who puts in two appearances, most successfully on Spanish Moon from 1974's fourth long-player, Feats Don't Fail Me Now), or another two-time guest, Jimmy Buffett, who reprises his own Will Kimbrough/Gwil Owen-penned signature, Champion Of The World, with wistful rootsy conviction.

The trouble is, the more you listen to these perfectly adequately delivered performances, the more you begin to detect an unsettlingly self-satisfied accent, one heightened rather than diluted by the assembled fawning extras, who include banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, slide guitar bluesman Sonny Landreth, and rhinestone-coated country-and-western duo, Brooks and Dunn.

Making an album just because you can is surely not enough reason to actually do so, especially when it turns out to be as self-referentially dull and uninspiring as this.

It's probably best not to wonder what the inspirational Lowell George would have made of this schmaltzy flavour-free smorgasbord. One for completists only.

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