Home Read Albums Of The Week: Little Feat | Sam’s Place

Albums Of The Week: Little Feat | Sam’s Place

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Little Feat, one of rock’s signature and most acclaimed bands, are inviting everyone to join them over at Sam’s Place. It’s the band’s first new studio album in 12 years, their first blues album and the first to feature conga player Sam Clayton on lead vocals on every song.

Along with Clayton, Little Feat in 2024 features keyboardist Bill Payne, guitarist Fred Tackett, bassist Kenny Gradney, guitarist Scott Sharrard and drummer Tony Leone. This is the first Little Feat album recorded with new members Sharrard and Leone. All the members’ individual musical chops and collective chemistry light up the nine-track Sam’s Place, which was waxed at Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis in August 2023, except for Got My Mojo Working (Live), which was recorded live at the Boulder Theatre in Colorado on Dec. 17, 2022. The band’s longtime friend, the beloved Bonnie Raitt, provides vocals on the Muddy Waters gem Long Distance Call, a duet with Sam, and the album’s other special guests are Michael “Bull” LoBue on harmonica, Marc Franklin on trumpet, and Art Edmaiston on saxophone.

Little Feat emerged from the pandemic with their sense of humor, chops, and collective joy in playing intact — and their creativity has been renewed with Sam’s Place. The idea for the album started with Bill, but the whole band jumped in. They started working on songs at soundchecks. Sam, Scott and Fred wrote a new song called Milk Man. Visiting backstage at a Feat show, Raitt suggested the Howlin’ Wolf tune You Will Be Mine. Scott suggested Why People Like That, a Bobby Charles tune. Sam chose the Willy Dixon-penned Don’t Go No Further, a deep Muddy track.

Scott had recorded in Memphis, and they eventually found their way to Phillips’ second studio (the first, of course, was Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley began his career). SPR came complete with Jerry Lee Lewis’s piano, which Bill noted “practically played itself.” Feat are a rock band, but as Scott observed, at the end “the blues is home,” and they basically recorded it live in the studio, in the tradition. Their playing is at an all-time high, and Bill thought their musical conversation was “flawless.”

Sam was a happy vocalist. Milk Man, a song about his nephew, has lyrics from his wife Joni. The duet with Bonnie, he humbly admitted, was classic. “We go good together, man.” Last Night was done in memory of Sam’s very good friend, the late Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes. And Why People Like That was particularly satisfying. “I just like the way the slide sounds and everything. I knew Scott is a great slide player too, plus he is a great lead guitarist. And I know we would put our touch to it, the Little Feat touch. So we just sort of did it. Scott just adds a lot to it and he answers to what I’m singing.”

Sam’s Place scratches a deep itch. Sam added, “I’m very happy because I was never expecting anything like that. I mean, I have wanted to, but I just wasn’t expecting it to come to fruition. It was a long wait, but it’s satisfying.”