I love Sailin’ Shoes. And I generally enjoy the albums that came after it (though not as much as Sailin’ Shoes, which is definitely a favourite of the ’70s). So this first record, the one everyone gets to after they become fans, came as a bit of a shock. (As it always does. Yes, I’m a cliche.)
The music is much more straight-ahead blues rock, with some countryish and rootsy elements. It’s sort of southern rock adjacent though I don’t quite hear that as much as others do. (Also, aren’t these guys from California?!?!) I do hear the influence of the Band, though. (Though I will say it’s not as pronounced as some have made it out to be.)
The big reason this record stands out among numerous other blues rock albums of the era – aside from its slightly more diverse sound – is Lowell George’s songs. They are already weirder than just about any other blues rock songwriter’s. That’s a huge blessing, given how much of this stuff was around in 1970.
It’s impeccably played, of course. There’s not a single Little Feat record that isn’t. But it’s impressive that this version of this band was this good at blues rock, given how they became associated with funkier music not that many years later.
The weird Howlin’ Wolf tribute/pastiche doesn’t really work as well as everything else – and sounds the most derivative of everything here – but it’s well-played and it’s easy to forget it exists.
I suspect I’m being a little more kind to this than I should be. But I have a deep fondness for George’s weird songs and a fondness for this kind of music, especially when done differently.
Note: Wikipedia says it came out in January 1971 but I’m going with Rateyourmusic on this one, which says it came out in December 1970.