Picks and Pans Review: Let It Roll

updated 09/19/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/19/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Little Feat

Much has been taken, yet much abides. Little Feat, one of the most original and pleasurable of '70s rock bands, lost singer-writer-frontman Lowell George to a heart attack in 1979. Their reconstituted comeback, 10 years after the band's last studio album, Down on the Farm, is a strong and fairly sleek outing. Even without George, the band still has a number of its trademark elements. There is the slap-and-tickle percussion tandem of Richie Hayward and Sam Clayton, the dicey keyboards of Bill Payne, Paul Barrere's high lonesome guitar signatures and the tight, hip vocal harmonies the group has always boasted. The album kicks off with Hate to Lose Your Lovin', a foray into French Quarter funk that stands up unapologetically against anything Little Feat I ever did. Of course, that's the track where the group's new lead vocalist, Craig Fuller, most closely resembles George's feeding-time growl. On Hangin' on to the Good Times, the sort of no-regrets mid-tempo chugger that George used to illuminate like the Vegas strip, Fuller only processes the lyrics in workmanlike fashion. To give him his due, Fuller, formerly of Pure Prairie League, more than holds his own on the similarly gritty Long Time Till I Get Over You and Changin' Luck, two of the album's better cuts. Anyway, George's voice was never Little Feat's only charm. The group was always more versatile than your average rock band, Booboo. They still have that quality, although the band is not quite as beguiling as it once was. One Clear Moment and Listen to Your Heart, for instance, are the sort of efficiently rendered L.A. soft-rock tracks that, unfortunately, never seem to go out of style. Still, this album can unquestionably stand on its manifold merits to both first-time listeners and longtime Feat fans. For the latter, of course, Let It Roll has one glaring demerit: It will make them miss Mr. George like the dickens. Rock in peace, Lowell. (Warner Bros.)

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