Eagle Rock Entertainment
Featuring the full July 23, 1977 concert from Essen, Germany, along with a good amount of bonus rehearsal footage, Skin it Back is an uprecedented look at Little Feat at the peak of their live power. Absolutely essential viewing is a gross understatement. Here we are, only days before the shows that spawned one of the greatest live rock n’ roll albums of all time, Waiting for Columbus, not to mention it was the first in a decade-long tradition of legendary live Rockpalast European television broadcasts. If you don’t know Little Feat, imagine swinging Southern-flavored jazz rock bolstered by no less than four singers all talented enough to easily stand on their own. It may sound cliché, but there was truly not a single weak link in this band, with every member giving it their all, and every piece to the puzzle as essential as the next—not to mention “fearless leader” Lowell George’s trademark slide guitar work and powerful, gruff, yet warm vocals.
For the seasoned and attentive Feat fan, the band’s sly sense of humor and musical playfullness are evident in several quirky little lyric changes, that reference things like the city they’re playing their gig to the 16-hour plane ride it took for them to get there. These impromptu moments and several lengthy jams showcase a band so comfortable and adept with their own material that they can easily have fun with the songs and with each other, especially evident in the bonus rehearsal footage from earlier in the day.
They take their trademark “Dixie Chicken” for such a long walk in so many interesting directions and tempos that after a particularly lengthy jaunt, keyboardist Bill Payne jokingly asks “Now where were we?” before launching right back into the main theme. The footage provides an incredibly intimate look into the intricacies of Little Feat, and seeing Lowell and Paul Barrere face to face laying down scorchers on classics like “Oh, Atlanta” and “Dixie Chicken” is the ultimate gift from the gods for rabid George-era Feat fans who were still in diapers when this crucial chunk of rock history was taking place.
About two years after this show, Little Feat (temporarily) disbanded, and in one of the saddest cases of “What would he be playing these days?” Lowell George tragically died merely two weeks later, while touring with a new band to support his underappreciated solo album, Thanks, I’ll Eat it Here. Rather than bothering to try to describe Lowell George, it’s best to look to his own lyrics from “Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor” to truly do his memory justice. “Two degrees in be-bop, a PHD in swing, he’s the master of rhythm he’s a rock and roll king.”