May 242024
little feat

In the late ‘90s, I took a musicology class on the history of 20th century American music. During a section on blues, my professor played Muddy Waters’ rendition of “Got My Mojo Working.” “Now,” she said after it ended. “What is the song about?” Frustrated by our blank stares, she yelled out, “Sex, people. It’s about sex.” More precisely, it’s about someone trying to score and failing miserably, but that’s the blues for you.

We’re now almost one-quarter of the way through the 21st Century, and we can still talk about “Got My Mojo Working,” and all its tawdriness, in the present tense. Last week, the long-running rock band Little Feat released a live cover on its newest album Sam’s Place.

Originally penned by Preston “Red” Foster, “Got My Mojo Working” is a blues standard. Beyond Muddy Waters, it’s been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, Big Mama Thornton, the Zombies, Eric Clapton and B.B. King, to name a few.

Like many legacy acts, Little Feat features members who’ve been performing with the group for decades, along with several newbies, who bring virtuoso skills and deep knowledge of the band’s history. Sam’s Place is the band’s first record to feature long-time percussionist and singer Sam Clayton on lead vocals on every track. For a man who has spent most of the band’s career near the back of the stage, he plays the role of frontman like an old pro.

As a live recording, “Got My Mojo Working” captures the power the band brings to the stage every night. This version is an outright party anthem built for shaking one’s hips. It features a fast, quick-stepping drum beat, feisty high-pitched guitar licks and Clayton’s soulful, well-seasoned vocals. The cover highlights Little Feat’s enduring musical prowess and showcases a song whose topic never gets old. At this rate, the song might make the syllabus of a 21st century music class, too.

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