Grooves for days. New Orleans' answer to Booker T. & The MGs (but funkier), The Meters worked as both as a backing band as well as releasing their own recordings. I was shamefully unaware of the group until their 1969 single, Cissy Strut, was used in the film soundtrack for Jackie Brown, but left off the soundtrack album release. I immediately liked it, wanted to hear more of the group, found out the good people at Rhino had put together a compilation and that was all the encouragement I needed. Turns out I made a good call - this stuff is quality southern funk. Which, of course, means these cuts are heavily sampled for hip-hop records. Sequenced in chronological order, we get the chance to see how the band's sound progressed through the years. Thorough, quality liner notes - a typical Rhino joint. Today's menu calls for jambalaya followed by some king cake.
The Meters have been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times: 1996, 2012, and 2013. In a glaring oversight, they have yet to be inducted as of this writing. The group is still around in various forms today. Depending on the personnel, they go by either The Original Meters or The Funky Meters.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Disc 1: The Josie Years (1969-71)
The band released three albums on Josie Records before the label went bankrupt in 1971. The earlier tracks are instrumental with Art Neville's Hammond organ often taking the lead over Joseph "Zig" Modeliste's kickass drumming. Vocals are introduced in later songs, starting with track 17. Wonderfully inventive and funky, all the tracks are upbeat regardless of tempo (if that makes any sense). Much of the music has only a couple of chords and the same groove, but if you like that groove, there's really not a problem. 26 tracks over 74 minutes and I can't skip anything. In addition to Cissy Strut, don't miss Sophisticated Cissy, Look-Ka Py Py, Ride Your Pony, and Stretch Your Rubber Band.
Disc 2: The Reprise/Warner Bros. Years (1972-77)
17 tracks, 70 minutes. Now on a major label, the band has a more commercial pop sound, with group vocals and guitar scratching. It's not bad at all, just drastically different from the first disc. More vocals and more varied styles, from a Stax-styled horn section to heavy studio effects to Caribbean island music. More of what I consider to be traditional New Orleans funk. My favorites are Cabbage Alley, Hey Pocky A-Way, Fire On The Bayou, (Doodle Loop) The World Is A Little Bit Under The Weather, and Funkify Your Life.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None, but this CD set provides strength for my argument that you should buy CDs when you see them (especially Rhino stuff) because you never know how long they'll be around. Used sets are currently selling for around $70 on eBay; I paid $17.28 new on March 6, 2011. (How did I remember the exact price and date? Well, I don't keep meticulous records of my purchases, but