Barnstormin' Live Volume One, Barnstormin' Live Volume Two, Rocky Mountain Jam (all 4*)

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Here are a couple that slipped past in the changeover between buying hard copies of new music and rocking over to iTunes to grab the digital equivalents.

The purpose of these selections from the Feat's extensive tape archive is, as far as I can make out, to provide new items that can be sold through the website and, more particularly, at the merchandise table at live gigs. That sort of thing is a vital component of a touring outfit's bottom line.

Barnstormin' Live Volume One hit the market and the merch table back in early 2005, and Hughesy was off to the website for a hard copy tout suite. Volume Two sneaked out later that year, by which stage I think I'd run across the problem of storage space so I'd put off buying a hard copy, and the reappearance of Volume Two in a two disk box with its predecessor wasn't going to result in a purchase either.

Rocky Mountain Jam appeared in 2007, aimed at much the same target, and by that time, with the purchases almost exclusively in the digital domain it was a case of we'll get around to it someday while financial and other considerations stepped in.

A glance at the three track listings doesn't reveal much in the way of fresh material. Apart from a take on Little Walter’s Last Night on Barnstorming One and a segue from Down On the Farm into Candy Man Blues to kick off Volume Two there’s a selection of titles from across the band’s history from Sailin’ Shoes to tracks from the then-most-recent studio effort Kicking It At The Barn without most of the night by night musical suspects. Those turn up on Rocky Mountain Jam, presumably because their absence on the earlier two titles had been noted.

As such, the three titles a fair portrayal of mid-noughties Little Feat in the seven piece configuration. One doesn’t ask too much about these things, but vocalist Shaun Murphy was cut loose in 2009, presumably as a cost-cutting exercise and the death of drummer Richie Hayes leaves keyboard wizard Bill Payne as the only survivor from the original quartet. Guitarist Paul Barrere, percussionist Sam Clayton and the bass playing Kenny Gradney climbed aboard for Sailin’ Shoes and multi-instrumentalist Fred Tackett had been on the fringes of the Feat scene for years before he was officially recruited when the post-Lowell George outfit reconvened to Let It Roll in 1988.

There will, of course, be those who’d question the need for any of these rebundlings, and that’d be a fair point if the Feat were inclined to regurgitate exact facsimiles of their studio output. As they don’t, it’s a matter of whether you like your Feat live (I do, mileages will vary), whether you need a bit more live material to go into the iTunes playlist (ditto) and whether you’re willin’ to pay the asking price (@ $16.99 over at iTunes you could say it’s a bit steep, but I can afford it, so...)


© Ian Hughes 2012