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Catchgroove’s Hall of Fame: Lowell George – Thanks I’ll Eat It Here

February 5, 2017

I discovered Lowell George, and his band Little Feat, from his/their famous fan Jackson Browne.   I was really into Browne’s 1980 album Hold Out.  On that album there is a song, “Of Missing Persons,” that was written for Inara George, the daughter of Lowell George.  George had died a year prior to the release of Hold Out.

Based on that song I sought out George’s one solo album Thanks I’ll Eat It Here and the Little Feat catalog.  What a treasure chest George’s music is.

At the time this album was recorded, George felt Little Feat was venturing too far toward jazz rock fusion, a style he hated, so he retreated back to the Dixie Chicken vibe on this solo debut. The album is a mix of covers and George originals.  The album has an easy, almost tossed-offed feel, but if you listen to it carefully it is deeply soulful, cleverly arranged and expertly played by the top session cats of the day (late 70s). Sadly, this would be George’s last album as he died shortly after its release.

George had an interesting career – he was in Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, The Standells and Little Feat. There is no coherent narrative between those three bands.  He produced one of the Grateful Dead’s most pop sounding albums – Shakedown Street. He was a multi-instrumentalist, most famous as a slide guitarist.  He had a rich soulful voice and wrote some great songs. In short, he is an amazing footnote in rock music history.

This album is a perfect calling card for the music of Lowell George.  It’s pretty easy and inexpensive to acquire on LP and CD (under $5).

The album opens with a brilliant cover of the Allen Toussaint song “What Do You Want the Girl to Do.”  This song opened the door for me to the genius of Allen Toussaint.  Little Feat stood on the broad shoulders of Toussaint’s New Orleans funk.

“Honest Man” is a George original and it has a slight reggae lilt.

“Two Trains” is a reprise of a Little Feat classic (originally composed by George).  This version is a bit funkier than the original from Dixie Chicken.

Side one ends with another perfect cover: Ann Pebbles’s “Can’t Stand The Rain.” The Pebbles original is amazing and some how George manages to duplicate the beauty of the original, yet make it his own.

Side two opens with a Lowell George, Van Dyke Parks and Martin Kibbee (aka Fred Martin) number that has a mariachi feel. “Cheek To Cheek” is a love song to a woman stranded south of the border (I guess this has been a long-standing issue in America).

George takes Rickie Lee Jones’ lethargic “Easy Money” and turns it into Little Feat magic.

“20 Million Things” is a George original that is heartbreakingly beautiful.  I would love to hear Keith Richards cover this song – it would be perfect for him.

“Find A River” is by session ace Fred Tackett.  It has a nice Jackson Browne feel.

“Himler’s Ring” is written by the great songwriter Jimmy Webb. George gives it and old-time vaudeville flavor.  Himmler, who was the head of the Nazi SS, awarded honor rings, also known as death’s-head rings, to his most loyal and valiant officers.

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The playfulness of this song is quite ironic given the ghoulish source of its inspiration.

“Heartache” is a George original that is a CD bonus track (it is also on the Spotify version of the album). It has a country song feel.  It is the least produced song on the album and it is a nice little coda.

The cover art is by Neon Park (he did all the Little Feat LP covers except their debut) parodies Édouard Manet’s famous painting “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” with Marlene Dietrich, Fidel Castro and Bob Dylan having a picnic.

This album would be in my hall of fame, if for no other reason than it turned me on to Little Feat and Allen Toussaint, but it is a classic in its own right.

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