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Posts tagged ‘Lowell George’

Songs for Slim


The new Songs For Slim compilation album is overflowing with great songs, plus it’s for a good cause, making it a very worthwhile purchase on all counts. Songs For Slim is a benefit album, proceeds of which will go to help pay the medical bills of Slim Dunlap, best known as a guitarist for the Replacements, the legendary Minneapolis band that made some wonderful albums in the 1980s and early 1990s. Dunlap also made two highly regarded solo albums (the first in 1993, the other in 1996), but a stroke in 2012 curtailed his music career and he now requires round-the-clock medical care. Fortunately, he has many friends in the music industry who have banded together to help him out.

So yeah, Songs For Slim has its heart in the right place, but on musical merits alone this 2-CD set is thoroughly enjoyable. If you cut your teeth on the alternative-pop guitar-propelled music of the 80s, particularly the rowdy rock of the Replacements, you’ll find a lot to like on this album. I’ve been a Replacements fan since the early days, but I’d never heard either of the solo albums that Slim Dunlap recorded, so the biggest surprise for me was the high quality of these songs, all of which Slim wrote himself. This tribute album features the likes of the Replacements, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Joe Henry, Tommy Keene, Jakob Dylan, Patterson Hood (from Drive-By Truckers), Soul Asylum, Peter Holsapple, Frank Black (from the Pixies), Jeff Tweedy (from Wilco), and many others, including a track by LP.Org, which features the radiant vocals of Gary Louris from the Jayhawks. Another of my favorite tracks is by a guy I’d never heard of before, Frankie Lee. Imagine if Ronnie Wood was a much better vocalist and that’s pretty close to what he sounds like.

Kudos to these artists, and to especially Slim’s friend and longtime Replacements manager Peter Jesperson, for putting this heartfelt and rockin’ tribute album together. Songs For Slim is available as a 2-CD set, or on good ole vinyl, including some 10-inch and 12-inch singles available, plus limited edition artwork by Replacements drummer Chris Mars.

In addition to Songs For Slim here are some of the other CDs that are making me sing and dance and cool down during the intense heat wave that we are having this month in Bangkok:


Various Artists – Hall of Fame Volume 2: More Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults

Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength: The ‘74/’75 Studio Recordings

Various Artists – The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles

Stanley Turrentine – That’s Where It’s At

George Jackson – All Because of Your Love


Le Grande Kalle – His Life, His Music

Various Artists – Eccentric Soul: Smart’s Palace

Ry Cooder – Get Rhythm

Doug Paisley – Strong Feelings

Al Green – Love Ritual: Rare and Unreleased 1968-76


Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

Allen Toussaint – The Complete ‘Tousan’ Sessions

Eddie Reader – Live in Japan

Flora Purim – Butterfly Dreams

Josh Rouse – The Happiness Waltz


Various Artists – The World Needs Changing: Street Funk & Jazz Grooves 1967-1976

Television Personalities – Yes Darling, But is it Art?

Midlake – Antiphon

The New Mendicants – Into the Lime

Willie Mitchell – Poppa Willie: The Hi Years 1962-74


Smoked Sugar – Smoked Sugar

The Young Fresh Fellows – The Men Who Loved Music

Mary Chapin Carpenter – Songs from the Movie

X – Under the Big Black Sun

Patrick Cowley – School Daze


Lowell George – Thanks I’ll Eat It Here

Tommy Tate – I’m So Satisfied

Various Artists – Late Night Tales: Belle and Sebastian Vol. 2

Beth Orton – Pass in Time: The Definite Collection

Roy Harper – Man & Myth


Larry Saunders – Free Angela

Major Lance – The Very Best Of

Trombone Shorty – Say That To Say This

Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

Chumbawamba – The Boy Bands Have Won


Little Feat

Little Feat were one of the very best rock bands of the 1970s, as evidenced by classic albums such as Sailin’ Shoes, Feats Don’t Fail Me Know, and Dixie Chicken. The band could spit out a catchy three-minute pop song if they saw fit, or segue into extended jams, highlighting their adept musical chops. Their songs were glorious musical concoctions of rock, blues, soul, funk, country, and jazz. Little Feat was an incredibly versatile band and their live concerts were lively, wondrous experiences. Yet due to a lack of hit singles and little radio airplay, few mainstream music listeners ever knew who they were. Little what?

After band member Lowell George tragically died in 1979 at the age of 34, the consensus was that Little Feat would either cease to exist or become a shadow or their former selves. After all, George was the group’s main songwriter and lead singer, as well as an accomplished guitar player. Although he had released a solo album only a few months before his death, George had no intention of leaving the band. Main man or not, he was only one cog in the wheel and the rest of the musicians in the band showed that they could more than hold their own in his absence. Billy Payne, Paul Barrere, Sam Clayton, Ritchie Hayward, and Kenny Gradney were all outstanding musicians — and a few of them could hold a note too — and they weren’t about to sit around and rust or retire in their thirties. And so they carried on. Although most fans acknowledge that the band’s best material was written by George, it can be argued that they became an even stronger band after his passing. During those post-George years, the original members weren’t always onboard at the same time, but no matter what the lineup, Little Feat continued to be a formidable musical force, especially in concert. The problem, though, was that many of their old fans dropped off the bandwagon.

I was one of those fans who were guilty of abandoning the band during the 80s and 90s, listening mostly to the alternative and indie groups on the scene during those years, and ignoring older bands like Little Feat. But Little Feat soldiered on during those decades, recording new albums and making the audacious move of adding a female lead singer, Shaun Murphy. This young woman had a strong voice (she’s been compared by many reviewers to Janis Joplin), belting out the blues and soul with the best of them, so she fit perfectly with the rest of the band. Before they added her, the band recruited another excellent vocalist, Craig Fuller — most famous for being the singer on early albums by Pure Prairie League — and an additional guitarist, the talented Fred Tackett. Let it roll!

Little Feat’s double live album from 1978, Waiting for Columbus, is revered by many as being one of the best live albums better. But it’s quite possible they topped that album with another concert recording, Live at Neon Park, a double-CD set that was released in 1996, and featured both Shaun Murphy and Craig Fuller on vocals. It’s tempting to say that the presence of Lowell George is sorely missed, but you know, that’s not really the case here. It may be musically sacrilegious to say this, but the band sounds great without him. Clearly, Little Feat is so good, and so deep in musical talent, that they know how to compensate for the loss of a member as special as Lowell George. Although George is not personally present on Live at Neon Park, his spirit resonates throughout, especially on beloved compositions that he wrote, such as “Dixie Chicken,” “Willin’,” and “Fat Man in the Bathtub.” And to further add to that vibe, the great man’s daughter, Inara George, shows up to sing on the classic “Sailin’ Shoes.” I loved Waiting for Columbus but I think the band is even more spirited on Live at Neon Park. No matter who is handling lead vocals, or which song they are playing, they sound like they are having a thoroughly wonderful time. And as any fan of live albums will tell you, such joyful exuberance infects the listener too.

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