Meters to perform
The Meters are coming! The Meters are coming! These words have passed through the lips of many students in the past few weeks. Yet, aside from the brothers of Phi Delta Alpha, and anyone within earshot of their porch, few have been exposed to this band's unique blend of funk, R and B, African, Cajun and Caribbean music.
The Meters formed in New Orleans in the mid-sixties. Initially a four piece, they were comprised of Art Neville on keyboards, guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist George Porter and drummer Zigaboo Modeliste. Cyrille Neville (of Neville brothers fame) later joined the band on percussion and David Batist is now playing drums. It is this second generation of the band that is best represented on the available recorded output.
Porter is one of the finest bassists around and the essential element of the Meters sound. The Meters often delve into polyrhythms, a major component of West African folk music, and it is Porter's bass that unifies their songs. When given room to stretch out, he can come up with licks that have funk and fire. Guitarist Nocentelli Influences ranging from New Orleans Zydeco to Hendrix to James Brown's Jimmy Nolen are apparent in guitarist Nocentelli's music.
Although the band's very best music has yet to make it to American CDs, there are four readily attainable discs: "Good Old Funky Music," "Look-ka Py Py," "The Meters Jam" and "Uptown Rulers: The Meters Live on the Queen Mary." Their best CD is a hard to find British Import entitled "Funky Miracle." I wholeheartedly recommend "Look-ka Py Py." It is an excellent example of the band's stripped down, funky instrumental approach. Although the live album has a particularly bad example of something that should never happen, the funk ballad, it also contains the cuts "It Ain't No Use" "Africa" (covered as "Hollywood" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and is the only readily available source of "Cissy Strut," their biggest hit.
Of the two remaining records, I give "Good Old Funky Music" the nod over "The Meters Jam" even though the former has the infamous song from Animal House which begins "I give my love a cherry that has no stone." Unfortunately, the Meters rendition inspires the same reaction as the movie version.
Quite honestly, it is hard to go wrong, and if you like one of them, you'll probably want them all!
I'll see you on Phi Delt's porch at 5 p.m. or in Webster Hall at 8 p.m. if it rains. Be prepared to move, groove and re-move.