Representing the Mambo

Wow, they’re back. And this ongoing comeback — unlike Fleetwood Mac’s — really deserves a ”wow.” Until their resurgence two years ago, Little Feat hadn’t recorded an album since 1979. Their new one kicks off with a blaze of rapid-fire guitar, and goes on to stomp through several states’ worth — maybe several countries’ worth-of territory.

One of those states would have to be Texas, where (in ”Texas Twister”) the band happily encounters a very young woman sexy enough to knock all strength out of a man. They also (in ”Those Feat’ll Steer Ya Wrong Sometimes”) meet a state cop not quite amiable enough to accept listening to Little Feat as an excuse for driving at double the speed limit.

If songs such as these were all Little Feat played, you might dismiss their return as nothing more than nostalgia for the way good ol’ boys used to live. (Even then, though, you’d have to smile at the way they brag about their manhood while measuring it against a woman and a cop tougher than they are.)

But there’s much more going on. The album ends with two songs (”The Ingenue” and ”Silver Screen”) that don’t just boogie. They also examine the lives of urban women who live mainly in fantasy; all at once the music resonates with echoes of European pop, various Latin styles, and jazz. Little Feat is as musically deft as any band around. Even their good ol’ boy songs — such as the title cut, which also has Latin overtones — are deft. It’s a cliché of rock criticism to say the band lost something it could never regain with the 1979 death of its star singer and songwriter, Lowell George. But 11 years later, the re-formed Little Feat has plenty to offer. B+

Representing the Mambo
  • Music