Sailin' Shoes

Sailin' Shoes

Little Feat’s second album, from 1972, is a dusty trove of loose-limbed blues, flinty R&B, and essential rock ’n’ roll. It finds a band heading down a road littered with seamy truck stops and beat motels. It speaks in literate ways of living on biker speed, bad weed, and cheap wine. It’s like there was some great American mythic living inside the head of frontman Lowell George: a guy looking for freedom who wrote and sang songs because he knew there was nothing else in life for him. (To hear just how dicey that existence was, listen to the anthemic opener, “Easy to Slip”). And “Willin’,” which documents a trucker’s life, is one of the most beautiful rock songs of freedom ever recorded (there’s a spare, haunting version on it on their debut album). Then the jittery “Teenage Nervous Breakdown” sounds like George had invited his teenage self along to the recording sessions. The slow-boogie groove and guitars of “Cold, Cold, Cold” are so authentic-sounding that the song takes you straight into the Bukowskian existence it describes.

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