Oddly enough, I'd grabbed Little Feat's Live from Neon Park set the other day 'cause I'd been in the mood to hear a really good rhythm section. Paul Barrere & Co. have always been pretty dynamic in that arena, from the day I saw 'em live with the Strawbs (at the Santa Monica Civic, if memory serves) up until now, but if you glom the first four tracks of Neon Park, the band was so damn tight that it's mind-blowing. Little Feat is eons away from fusion or prog, though the South hasn't been a stranger to intelligent progressive refrains, as we saw with the Dixie Dregs, David Sancious, and others. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to receive this disc, read the liner notes and find Ritchie Hayward, Fred Tackett, and Barrere serving in various capacities. Pete Griffin's Gryphon Labs, a very progressive unit based in Griffin himself, may seem to be a bit incompatible, as the disc's a fairly heavy wonderland of fusion jamming, but the Featers fit in nicely, seamlessly, adding luster to a very adventurous sound.
Griffin's the bass player, keyboardist, and composer, but he found a great addition in Jamie Kime, a tasty guitarist somewhat along the lines of Dave "Cyrano" Langston, producer and player on John Entwhistle's ultra-cool but undeservedly obscure Smash Your Head against the Wall; the guy also recalls elements of Steve Hillage. Normally a stringsman, Tackett even plays trumpet on one cut here, I'm Dreaming, You're a Dream, sounding like Walt Fowler, an extremely pleasant surprise. Modern Mythology is completely instrumental, complex, baroque, jammin', a soupçon first of prog-shred, then of ensembles like Hermetic Science, Conventum, mid-period Gong, and finally of the entire spirit of the bondaries pushing art rock movement. And, sweet Christ, can Griffin pull out all the stops when he wants to! Unafraid is a hurtling juggernaut any top-flight prog band would be proud to call its own…once it caught its breath after the incandescent fury of the track subsided.
On the other hand, the guy doesn't lack for experimentality when laying back either, as Felt Like Love (Another) clearly shows, Kime laying in attackless Akkermanesque lines, Griffin decorating the atmosphere all around him. Then the cut ratchets up, and we're left on the precipice of a slowly building roil. The entirety of Mythology is a glorious bath of hedonistic energetics and way-above-average chops—catch the Weather Report near-quotes in (Someday I'll be) King of Something, sophisticated and then some. Griffin's background explains the endless dexterities, however: he's been on stage with Edgar Winter, Zappa Plays Zappa, and others, gents and groups one does not hold a prayer of standing in the shadow of unless talented above the run of mortal men.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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