For Little Feat fans, this DVD is a rare treat. Skin It Back features the band at the absolute peak of their powers, and it works as an introduction to the group as well.
Skin It Back finds Little Feat in Germany, broadcast live all over Europe. It was a great night for the group as the program Rockpalast decided to make them the inaugural headliners of their show.
And what a great decision. Watching Lowell George play live is incredible. Having never seen him play live, I had always wondered how he was able to play both slide guitar and individual notes at the same time. As an amateur player myself, it was an amazing thing to watch.
There is much more to this DVD than simply seeing Lowell George at his prime, though. Skin It Back shows how much of a band Little Feat really were.
Drummer Richard Hayward nails it in the segue from “Skin It Back” to “Fat Man In The Bathtub.” And bassist Kenney Gradney’s work on the instrumental “A Day At The Dog Races” is brilliant.
But the other true star of this show is keyboardist Bill Payne. His extended solo during “Dixie Chicken” (yes, the song that gave those country gals their name) is absolutely riveting. He takes the song from a basic roadhouse vamp deep into jazz territory, much like the Allman Brothers were doing at the time with “High Falls.”
Listening to music this adventurous is one thing. Watching it played live is something else entirely. Payne’s fingers literally dance across the keyboard.
One of the joys of the DVD format is the bonus material, which has become expected, if not practically required. The bonus section of Skin It Back is elegant in it’s simplicity. The pre-show rehearsal/sound-check for the concert is included, basically comprising an intimate mini-set. The band were playing for themselves in the empty hall, and their loose, easy musical banter is something to see.
The only drawback to Skin It Back is the same one I have with most Seventies concert footage. The lighting is never really coordinated to the demands of the camera. It is a little murky.
But what are you going to do? This proved to be Lowell George’s final tour with Little Feat, and the entire band just smokes. Their “breakthrough” LP, Waiting For Columbus, was recorded live just a month or so after this appearance.
For those of us who have always wondered just how hot Little Feat were in their prime, Skin It Back is essential viewing.