Picks and Pans Review: Representing the Mambo
The reunion album in 1988 from the reconstituted Little Feat, Let It Roll, was a delightful, unexpected pleasure. The band stepped right back into the same juicy, deep-dish groove that made them one of the great rock bands of the '70s. (Fans of that genre might want to seek out the new Runnin' Partners by bassist George Porter of the Meters.)
The second time back is a more problematic proposition. Maybe it's just human nature. People in Galilee probably weren't that enthralled to see Lazarus two weeks after his resurrection either; even the most remarkable of comebacks gets old pretty fast. And this record has its spicy moments.
But it drags a good deal too, primarily because of some flat-Feated writing. Among the disappointments are "Texas Twister." a hectic blues rocker, the Steely Dan manqué feel of the title track and "The Ingenue," and the clipped country swing of "Those Feat'll Steer Ya Wrong Sometimes."
The band's most spirited attempt to dredge up the past is a blatant knockoff. "Woman in Love" is simply refried "Dixie Chicken."
Keep in mind that this is all relative to the Feat's past achievements. Even a pale imitation of prime Little Feat beats the dookie off what most bands are recording these days.
Representing the Mambo isn't the abject belly flop the Doobie Brothers reunion was by any means. The level of musicianship is too high for one thing. You have Paul Barrere's fatback slide guitar, Bill Payne's hold-you-down-and-tickle-you piano playing and the beat wizards Sam Clayton and Richie Hayward.
So don't start disbanding those fan clubs yet. There are just enough good songs on this album—"Teenage Warrior" and "Rad Gumbo"" among them—to keep listeners' loyalties intact. (Warner Bros.)