The world didn’t necessarily need a band to fill the space between James Brown and the MG’s, but the Meters decided to do it anyway, and a lot us are very glad that they did.
Combining the rigid syncopation of Brown’s rhythm sections with the loose space of Booker T’s group, the Meters found new ground for soul music by adding their own second line flavor to that mix. The New Orleans influence on the band’s sound cannot be overstated. This record simply could not have been made anywhere else in the world. The grooves are so steeped in New Orleans gumbo-groove that you can almost smell the sassafras. Apart from the occasional exhortation, this was strictly an instrumental affair (subsequent albums would add vocals a bit more with each release).
The rhythm section of George Porter, Jr. and “Zigaboo” Modeliste could syncopate a nursery rhyme, and they throw around upbeat accents with abandon while organist Art Neville and guitarist Leo Nocentelli drop in and over the rhythms as tight as sheets over a drill sergeant’s mattress.
The Meters were nothing if not consistent. I’ve never heard a Meters track I didn’t like, and I never heard a Meters album that wasn’t very, very good. After much consideration, I picked their first album for inclusion here only because their others follow its formula so closely – find a perfect groove and hold it, and make sure to leave some breathing room for the funky spaces. An argument could easily be made that time made the Meters only more funky with each release (through the seventies, at least) but the first album is classic for its definitive combination of restraint and release. Meet the new funk, not quite the same as the old funk.
May 1969 - Billboard Charted 108
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