Appreciating Little Village: A Humble Supergroup

As supergroups go, Little Village may not get the love it deserves. It did come and go pretty quickly, lasting for just over a year, but the alchemy was definitely there.

For songwriting chops and musicianship, it’d be kinda hard to beat Ry Cooder (guitar, vocals), John Hiatt (guitar, piano, vocals), Nick Lowe (bass, vocals), and Jim Keltner (drums). Each of the group’s members worked on Hiatt’s 1987 album Bring The Family, and formed in 1991 while on a break from their own musical projects. In fact, they were originally going to call the band Hiatus, in keeping with their self-effacing point-of-view, but eventually settled on Little Village, an apparent reference to a profane in-studio monologue by Sonny Boy Williamson II, on a Chess reissue album Bummer Road.

Hiatt and Lowe, especially, had earned a reputation for crafting intelligent, clever lyrics, where Cooder and Keltner were celebrated as “musicians’ musicians.” The four members of Little Village brought their diverse backgrounds and talents to the table, creating a sound that was rooted in rock and roll but also drew from blues, country, and folk influences.

Little Village’s self-titled, Grammy-nominated debut album was released in 1992 and was embraced by critics if not the general record-buying public. The album featured a mix of original songs and covers of classic rock and roll tunes, all imbued with the band’s unique blend of musicianship and storytelling. Although all songs are credited to all four group members, Hiatt sang all but three, with two sung by Lowe and one by Cooder.  Standout tracks included “Don’t Bug Me When I’m Working,” a bluesy rocker that showcased Hiatt’s gritty vocals and the band’s tight musicianship, and “She Loves My Automobile,” a humorous ode to the joys of driving fast cars. And “Solar Sex Panel” is a particularly good example of their cheeky wordplay.


hair of rock merch

Little Village toured in support of the album, playing to enthusiastic crowds across the country. Their live shows were known for their high-energy performances and tight musicianship, as well as the band members’ playful banter and sense of camaraderie.

Unfortunately, the band members eventually went their separate ways after a little more than a year. Nick Lowe said “Little Village was really good fun. Unfortunately, the record we did was no good. I suppose on some level, it worked, but Warner Brothers kind of gave us too much time to do it.” For our part, we think Mr. Lowe was being too hard on the band. While it lasted, it genuinely cooked. And the songs do stand the test of time as classic examples of finely-crafted, roots-flavored rock.

-The CS Team

Photo: Fair Use image of the Little Village album cover

PS. We first ran this post in 2023, but figured the band could always use a little more love.

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6 comments on “Appreciating Little Village: A Humble Supergroup

  1. Little Village’s self-titled (and sole) album is one of my favorites of all time. Each song is a gem and the track order is excellent. The chemistry of the four group members is amazing. I don’t know why Nick Lowe’s assessment of the album was so negative. I wish I had the opportunity to see them live. (I bought a bootleg live CD but the sound quality was awful.) Thanks for highlighting the group with this article!

  2. Excellent record! Saw them live in New Haven Ct and it was smokin!

  3. if you compare it to Lowe’s best output – Nick the Knife, Pinker and Prouder, Impossible Bird, Dig my Mood, you might understand his view. The track that Lowe, Cooder and Keltner recorded with John Lee Hooker on Mr Lucky is, however, magnificent.

  4. Little Village suffered under from Souther Hillman Furay Band syndrome . Its a wonderful idea on paper , the songs are pretty good and the live shows are fun . When it comes to that permanent document known as ” the album ” there was an element missing that makes a record stand up and stand out . Its hard to make a business deal sound like an organic relationship . Its missing that sparkle . None of them needed to hang their hat on this one anyway .

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