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One of those bands that perfectly epitomized so many things about the 1970s, Little Feat created a strangely smooth and sexy pastiche of Southern-spiced blues-rock. Main man Lowell George
's undulant slide guitar marked the group's early recordings. His vocals, meanwhile, were distinctive in the manner in which he toyed with vowels as if they were yo-yos, tossing them up and down, this way and that. The albums recorded prior to George's 1979 death reflected a jazz influence (albeit one that would grow more pronounced as his influence in the band waned). Being based in Los Angeles also gave them a certain patina they may have lacked if they had been based in, say, Memphis. Feats Don't Fail Me Now
features visiting guests Bonnie Raitt
and Emmylou Harris
and a collection of tight, wryly observant songs. Don't Fail Me
's 1973 predecessor, Dixie Chicken
, is generally seen as Little Feat's must-have outing, but this album, too, holds up a stunningly strong demonstration the appeal of the band's rock-blues-jazz hybrid. --Lorry Fleming