There are only a handful of essential live albums. A few that immediately come to mind are the Who's "Live at Leeds," the Stones' "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out" and the Allman Brothers'"At the Fillmore East." Included on that elite list is Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus."
What you hear on this expanded version of their 1978 release is a band at their peak. Lowell George's incendiary slide guitar playing, Bill Payne's rollicking keyboards, the funk of the Tower of Power horn section and the band's backlog of material make for a stunning live performance. Not only are "Don't Bogart That Joint" and "A Apolitcal Blues" restored to this reissue (deleted from the original vinyl release to accommodate a single CD), but a whopping ten outtakes are included, adding almost a full hour of music!
Of the outtakes on disc-2, tracks 6-10 were mixed for the original album, but not used. Tracks 13-15 first appeared on the odds and ends album "Hoy-Hoy!" According to the liner notes, tracks 11 and 12 apparently were never considered for use on either the original album or "Hoy-Hoy!" All outtakes were taken from the same series of concerts (The Rainbow Theatre in London and Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC) as the songs on the original album.
This is the last Little Feat album which had the full involvement of Lowell George. [George died before the completion of the disappointing follow-up studio album "Down on the Farm."] While a revamped Little Feat has been releasing albums for the past two decades, this is a must-have album from their classic lineup. ESSENTIAL
on April 10, 2003
Having been a long time fan of this wonderful multi-talented band, when their double live vinyl album was released in 1978, it was with great excitement that it was whisked home to my rustic record player. The volume was turned up to 'unbearable' and the Dog spent his day listening to one of America's finest, laying down a live set that would curry a favorable impression with any band on the Planet. I happily state that ' Waiting for Columbus' should be up there with all the other great live albums of the seventies. But then what constitutes a great live album? It's clearly not the mere replication of a band's studio performances. That approach may satisfy the attending audience whilst proving how clever a band can be, although not showing any imagination or creativity. But what's the point of making a record of one that already exists? It's far more rewarding to experience a live album on which the boys really get stuck in and show what they can do when released from the confines of the studio, and all the Record Company 'suits' in attendance. Other examples include the Who's scorching 1970 document 'Live at Leeds', where" The Who" were able to show off what an inspiring and exhilarating Rock 'n' Roll band they were outside the confines of hit singles and Rock Operas, or "The Allman Brothers Band" at the Filmore East, when a band can expand the length of a song searching out every aspect of its outer regions.
What makes 'Waiting for Columbus' so memorable is that it seamlessly puts all the qualities of a great Live album into one neat little package. Upon it's first release there was perhaps a feeling of some regret that not the whole of a 'Little Feat's' set could be squeezed onto four sides of vinyl and a three album set would of been welcome, but then we should be happy with what we got. But when it was originally released on the CD format, fans of the Feat really did have cause for grousing, as to fit into the requisite CD formula three further songs were cut from the running list, considered by all to be very unsatisfactory. However, finally now released in a two CD set in its full glory with original tracks replaced, plus the addition of ten wonderful new songs added on with some extra in-between banter from the band.
From the warm up cappella that the band ritually used to sing on their way to the stage, to the Country Joe Woodstock style intro, right the way through to the closing jam of final encore 'Feats Don't Fail Me Now', you get it all. As soon as the band hit the stage they lock into the opening groove of 'Fat Man in the Bathtub' and you are whisked away to the feeling of belonging that normally only happens on very special Rock 'n' Roll occasions, like being in TQ corner on a great night! There are too many highlights to mention them all, but accolades must be given to the 'Tower of Power' Horn section that joins the band from the fourth song 'Oh Atlanta', where the whole ensemble really begins to cook. An extended version of perhaps the Feats most well known number, 'Dixie Chicken', when all the members of the band had room to show their talents. Of course, spread like a thick layer of choice caviar every song has its fair share of brilliance from Lowell George, whose sumptuous slide guitar and unique vocals dominate this set. George's 'Mercenary Territory' is probably one of the best live moments of music ever recorded. After a break from the 'Tower of Power' Horn section, Lowell George comes charging in right after them, leaving nobody in doubt as to who the Boss is. That is not to say it is just the Lowell George show - far from it. Kenny Gradney lays down perfect Bass rhythms adding just the right amount of Funk to the proceedings. Sam Clayton's percussion give the Feat their unique sound. Richie Haywood is one of the busiest drummers in the business. Bill Payne lays down some of the finest all round keyboard work to be heard on any live album, whilst Paul Barrere's lead guitar work was the perfect foil for the music to hang onto, giving added depth to the band's forays into the land of Jazz/Rock fusion like on the nearly fourteen minute long impromptu jam of 'Day at the Dog Races'.
If you like your music live played by slick musicians who like to live on the edge and are not afraid to let go and give it their all, then this could be exactly what you are looking for. Brilliant!
It is quite extraordinarily sad that within a year 'Little Feat' were no more and Lowell George had left this planet, as many feared he would. But the legacy of music left behind is a fine one with this perhaps being the jewel in the crown. Several years later the remainder of the band reformed under the 'Little Feat' banner, but, although they were a popular live attraction, without George the magic had gone.
Mott the Dog.
on February 18, 2008
Yea, I know some people will already be clicking this review is of no help and comment about some live at this or that by some group from some period in their lives, but the reality is is that this is one smoking set. There's no way that you can listen through to this concert and wonder why you weren't following Little Feat around when Lowell George was still with us. The jam based Dixie Chicken is one of the few live recordings that makes the studio version pale in comparison; the live Atlanta just swings; Willin' never sounded better. (So glad Zappa gave George the boot for wanting to record this cut; now we can hear it the way it was conceived.) Great set, great solos, great vocals, and arguably the best live album ever.
on February 6, 2001
I am a black man who went to an almost totally all white college in the midwest (kansas) to be exact. My first and what proved to be my only semester in college introduced me to southern rock hillbilly, boogie, muscle shoals gospel influenced music. Some of you know what I'm talking about? (Leon Russell, Doctor John, Bonnie Rait, and of course....Little Feat. My best friend at the time was a dj at a can ya dig it? ... a country diso! and he turned me on to Lowell George (May he rest in peace) and the 'Feat' I have been a fanatic ever since. This band who I was blessed to see live once in Kansas City were the very essence of a live band and instilled in me an appreciation for a certain style of musical interpretation that remains to this day. This album and the Feat Don't Fail Me Now LP along with Dixie Chicken are timeless examples of what it is supposed to sound like in the studio. Lowell George sure didn't look like the typical musical genius, but of course that was also the band's attraction. They weren't egotistical about their music and let it speak for them. What a tragic way for Lowell to leave us, but in a manner I am sure he would have wanted, on stage doing what he did so well. This album and this band's work circa Lowell should be classics and in recording museums.
on April 8, 2002
This is the 4th copy of WFC I have purchased. The original vinyl was my introduction to the band in 1978. I got the Mobile Fidelity vinyl and the earlier, abridged CD, but this "expanded edition" captures the Lowell George-era Little Feat at their finest. The sound is noticeably better, and the restoration of the edited tracks and fade of "Spanish Moon" is cool, but the real reason to buy another copy of this album is the bonus tracks. I have heard live versions of the bonus songs before and a couple of them popped up on the Hoy Hoy anthology, but these are the definitive versions (at least for this lineup). If you like this and want a taste of present day live Feat check out "Live from Neon Park." This band is alive and well over 30 years from its inception and will still knock your socks off.
on May 23, 2004
There is not another live rock album that can hold a candle to the sheer musicianship and energy of "Waiting for Columbus." Rhino has done the unbelievable - this release is far better than any of the past (LP, Mobile Fidelity LP, CD) because of the sound quality and the addition of previously unheard tracks from the concerts. I guarantee this CD will be in your player morning, noon and night.
Lowell George, lead vocalist, slide guitarist extraordinnaire and song writer, IS the Rock and Roll Doctor. It is clear he is the leader of the band. Regardless of his estrangement from the group in the years before and his drug problem, obviously Lowell was at his top live form here. This is a band that lived onstage for years and know exactly how to relate to each other musically in this setting. Looking to Lowell for direction never subjugates any of their exuberance and creativity. In fact, playing and oddly re-recording the same Lowell George tunes made the perfect framework for continual and better improvisation. That history gels perfectly in this album.
There is no better rhythm section with Feat than Tower of Power horns, and they are a fabulous addition on all their tracks. 'Mercenary Territory' is a stand out, but it would be hard to choose their best one. Richie Haywood is just simply the most solid, consistent drummer in rock and roll, but he couldn't stand out in this album had it not been for bass player Kenny Gradney and their almost twin-like connection. It is my opinion that Ken was responsible for much of the syncopation that Lowell loved. All in all, the rhythm section, including Sam Clayton on congas, just cooks and never cools down for the whole album.
Lowell's vocals are heartbreakingly beautiful. Smooth and hot at the same time - Lowell's sound was unique and irreplaceable, may he rest in peace. Billy Payne, creative at the keyboards as always, clicks in here better than any other Feat album.
You can tell this group loved to play live, boucing all that energy to an appreciative audience and welcoming it back. As for audiences...they were rabid fans, Grateful Dead-like in their devotion to Feat, but not quite so stoned. You can hear that enthusiasm in this album. In the mid-70's, I remember seeing Little Feat opening for Little River Band (can you believe it?) in Berkeley, California. After Feat played their awesomely great set, 50% of the full auditorium filed outside, never returning for the other band. I feel sorry for those who are too young to have never seen them live, but this album is the next best thing.
There has never been another rock band since that has eclipsed Little Feat in what they did best, a mixture of solid R&B, jazz, southern-based rock with a little blues thrown in. This album is an American treasure and a must buy for any fan of fine rock music.
on August 21, 2002
This recording, spruced up with very deserving extra material (most of it never-before released), stands as one of rock's greatest masterpieces.
One rarely hears it mentioned in the pantheon of great rock albums -- Let it Bleed, Sgt. Pepper, Who's Next, Live at Fillmore East, Led Zep 1, etc. -- but it should share the top row. No band has ever demonstrated more clearly what rock bands were put on this earth to do than Little Feat did in the concerts captured so beautifully on Waiting for Columbus.
These songs show high energy and brick-wall density -- punctuated with open spaces. Bad attitude & good humor. Tight arrangements laced with spontaneous combustion and improvised release. Songs with offbeat twists & turns that somehow never derail a pile-driving rhythm section. Brainy compositions with complex syncopations -- that still carry blue-collar passion and show personality for days.
The rock is real, and it's hard. It's sometimes crude, but never brutish. It's loose but never careless. It shouts but is never harsh. The sophisticated horn arrangements, which might stifle or constrain lesser bands, actually unleash more soul and more raw power. (Is there a more perfectly balanced yet electrical rock performance than "Mercenary Territory?" The slide & sax solos will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, even after 100 listenings.)
I sure miss these guys. They showed all the fun, the mystery, the wildness, the drive, the interaction and the creativity that rock bands are supposed to be about. This expanded collection is a showcase of that brilliance. The additional material is precious and worth re-buying this new version. The sound quality, too, is unsurpassed throughout.
A must for any collection! Unfamiliar with the Feat? Learn from the masters, and start here.
on April 30, 2002
I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend and it has been on my heavily played list ever since. This new edition of the lp was expanded to 2 disks. The second disk includes 2 songs omitted from the original release of the lp as a one disk set. It also includes 3 outtakes from this series of concerts in 1977 which were released on the "Hoy Hoy" album. In addition it also includes 7 previously unissued outtakes. The great "Skin It Back" appears twice. The band's music is somewhat of a roots rock gumbo. The addition of Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton to the rhythm section gave the band much more of a New Orleans funky feel. The appearance of the Tower Of Power Horn section at these concerts and cover of Allen Toussaint's "On Your Way Down" add to this feeling. The band is perhaps best known for the cuts "Dixie Chicken" and "Fat Man In The Bathtub" both of which appear here in exciting live versions. Ex-Frank Zappa guitarist Lowell George's songwriting was both wry and interesting. He was also one the best slide guitarists in rock during this time period as this set attests. Paul Barrere and Billy Payne also penned a number of great cuts like "All That You Dream", "Skin It Back", and "Oh Atlanta". The band varied the country rock of "Willin" with the jazzy instrumental "Day At The Dog Races". While cuts like "A Apolitical Blues" which feature the underrated ex-Stone Mick Taylor on guitar prove the band was equally adept at playing the blues. Other memorable cuts include "Tripe Face Boogie", "Spanish Moon" and "Feets Don't Fail Me Now". This music gives the impression that the band were having great fun during these concerts. My only regret is that a few of my favorite cuts like the should have been hit single "Easy To Slip", "Two Trains" and "The Fan" were not included in the set list at this series of concerts. This 2 cd set provides an excellent live overview of one of more diverse bands of the seventies. It also serves as a memorial to the amazing slide playing and humorous and twisted songwriting of their deceased leader Lowell George.
on January 17, 2007
I wasn't a "Feat" fan, back in '78 or'79. I won this album in a radio station giveway! They handed it to me & I thought: Who are these guys?
I put it on & couldn't believe my ears!!
5 stars!!??? That's 'way too few!
I was hooked immediately! There is nothing like the energy on this album anywhere I've heard. I now own around 3200 cds & a good number of them are "live" albums...NOTHING compares to this performance!
I used to shuttle cars across the country & this was my ESSENTIAL tape that HAD to come; everything else changed but this... This album is special!
It was originally a double album & they clipped off one tune to make it fit ( Apolitical Blues, I believe) Too bad. every song, every note on this album is pure excitement & joy!
They even have the TOWER OF POWER horn Section sit in on a few tunes & a few famous friends show up to sing backup.
Little Feat has gone on to produce umpteen fabulous albums, many since Lowell Goerge passed (again, TOO BAD- He was simply amazing!) Anyway, Little Feat still tours today with much the same lineup as in the days of old. They still rock & they still put out excellent studio & live albums I ought to know- I now own almost all of them. But friends... This is the album. THIS Is the LIVE album against with you will measure all others; and all others will pale by comparison!
on July 4, 2001
This was my favorite LP in college back in the day. Having switched completely to CD format during the 90s, I bought it on CD. WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DISAPPOINTMENT. Not only did Warner eliminate two entire songs, but they faded out the killer drums/conga ending to Spanish Moon, one of my favorite parts -- no, my FAVORITE part -- of the LP. I simply cannot listen to the CD knowing what is missing. Will someone NOT dressed in a suit or "business casual" please see to it that this recording gets re-released in its entirety and with some TLC for the musicians, musicianship, and arrangements? Please?