The third album from Little Feat saw a subtle move towards a more groove-laden funk style. While Lowell George was still band leader, he was starting to share more in the way of songwriting duties, and the addition of new band members, Paul Barrere and Sam Clayton, saw Little Feat approach Dixie Chicken with a renewed sense of purpose, resulting in perhaps their definitive studio offering.
Boasting Little Feat classics like the title track, “Roll Um Easy” and “Fat Man in the Bathtub”, Dixie Chicken found the band’s reputation take a massive leap forward, while still keeping them on the very fringes of the mainstream. It also pointed to a future were George’s influence over the band would lessen, while Barrere and keyboard player Bill Payne would have a greater impact on the band’s creative direction. While so much Southern rock at the time focused on massed guitars and heavy jams, Little Feat are typically loose-limbed, but never so much that they lose focus, and while they do indulge their tendency to jam, but this never gets so out of hand that they travel so far down a certain groove that they lose sight of the song itself.
Dixie Chicken is an album which can prove to be an oddly relaxing experience, almost to the point where if you’re not careful, you can end up zoning out. It’s a comforting listen, one that encourages your thoughts away from whatever day to day rigours you may have in life. It also means that it’s an album that can prove a little elusive from time to time, as sometimes you get to the end of the album and realise that you’ve been so relaxed that you’ve paid precious little attention to anything that’s gone on for its duration, and it’s even weirder if you’re listening to the original vinyl, because at some point you must have turned it over. That said, it’s also an album which sounds much better on vinyl, as the majority of CD editions have sounded oddly thin and even flimsy over the years, which is something that can seriously hamper your enjoyment of Little Feat.
While some would encourage the newcomer to approach Little Feat in a purely chronological manner,however, if you’re not to fussed about hearing their musical evolution, then Dixie Chicken is for many their definitive studio statement. Live, they frequently took things to another level entirely, but if you want to hear them at their best in the studio, then this is probably the best place to start.