May 2008

Little Feat - Little Feat
Mobile Fidelity UDCD 770
Format: CD
Originally Released: 1969
Reissue Released: 2007

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

In his liner notes to this Mobile Fidelity release of Little Feat’s debut album, producer Russ Titelman recounts how he took the band to Warner Bros. to see Lenny Waronker, then head or A&R for the label. Waronker heard a few songs and told them, "This is great. Go upstairs and make a deal with Mo." Waronker and Mo Austin had built Warner/Reprise Records into a powerhouse by courting great musicians (Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead) and treating them well. It’s hard to imagine a major-label executive today taking the time to hear a band play its songs acoustically, let alone signing them on the spot.

Little Feat blended rock‘n’roll, blues, New Orleans funk, country, and jazz into a uniquely American stew. I compared my beige-label Warner Bros. LP from the late '70s/early '80s to MoFi’s Ultradisc II CD, and the MoFi CD brings the details of the recording a little closer. The drums have a stronger three-dimensional feel than they do on the LP, and the acoustic guitar on "Willin’" (to choose one example) has a chestiness that the LP lacks. At times there’s a tiny bit of brittleness to the electric guitars on this CD, but overall it has the warmth and musicality of the LP while capturing the crackle and energy of the recording more sharply.

Vinyl lovers will probably find the overall flow and pace of the LP slightly preferable to any CD, and I might have found that an original or audiophile pressing provided a more accurate comparison. I must say, however, that MoFi’s recent CDs, some of them nicely packaged in heavy cardboard mini sleeves, are definitive presentations of great recordings like this one.