At number 29 in my countdown of the 30 best live albums in history, I have chosen Waiting for Columbus by Little Feat.
Many considered Little Feat to be over their golden age by 1977, but I think this live album shows them wrong. This is a band at its peak!
Willin’ 1977, Rockpalast:
Waiting for Columbus is the first live album by the “swamp rock” band, Little Feat. The album was recorded during seven performances in 1977. The first four shows were held at the Rainbow Theatre in London on August 1–4, 1977. The last three shows were recorded in George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium on August 8–10 that same summer in Washington, D.C.
The band was backed by the Tower of Power horn section with whom they had recorded in previous studio sessions. And they really fill out the sound!
Dixie Chicken (w/Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Jesse Winchester):
Many of their more well-known songs were either re-worked or extended. For instance, one of their signature songs, “Dixie Chicken”, was heavily extended to include a lengthy piano solo by keyboardist Bill Payne, a Dixieland horn arrangement and finally a dual guitar jam between the band’s two guitarists, Lowell George and Paul Barrere. This was frowned upon by some critics, but I like it when the recording artists try different versions and firmly believe that songs are works of art in constant development, they are dynamic in their nature. In some cases, songs such as Rocket In My Pocket and Mercenary Territory were re-worked to include the horn section, and Little Feat additionally covered such tunes as Don’t Bogart That Joint, originally by Fraternity of Man and On Your Way Down written by Allan Toussaint.
Old Folks Boogie 1977:
The band recorded and mixed enough songs from these performances for a triple album, but for marketing reasons kept it to a double set. Three of the unused tracks were included on their 1981 album Hoy-Hoy! All were eventually released on the 2002 Deluxe edition CD. This Deluxe Edition is the one included as a Spotify link at the end of this post.
As I said in my first post in this series, sometimes a band manages to better themselves on live albums and on this great album there are several examples of this All That You Dream, Oh Atlanta, Old Folks’ Boogie, Time Loves a Hero, and Mercenary Territory here to the cuts on The Last Record Album and Time Loves a Hero. The versions on Waiting are full-bodied and fully realized, putting the studio cuts to shame. And the drums sound so much better, they sound amazing.
This album should be in everyone’s collection!
Posts in this series:
(Sources: Wikipedia.com, Allmusic.com, Coolalbumreview.com)