One of the greatest gifts I have been given in my musical life was the fact that my parents moved to New Orleans in 1986. Through a random sequence of friends and events, I found myself one night at Tipitina’s music club in uptown New Orleans, and my musical fascination has never been the same. Today we listen to the self-titled debut album of The Meters.
Formed in the mid to late 1960s, the Meters started as a four-person act featuring Zigaboo Modeliste on drums, George Porter Jr. on bass, Leo Nocentelli on guitar, and the one and only “Poppa Funk” on keyboards. This first album is effectively an entirely instrumental album, although Neville and Modeliste would eventually add lead vocals as well. I just can’t describe how deliciously funky this first album is, just a perfect groove, song after song. I know that New Orleans is famous for a wide variety of sounds, perhaps most famously Dixieland jazz, but this slice of uptown funk will always be my center of gravity in the Big Easy. As many of you know, Neville eventually branched off to form a band with his three brothers, Charles, Aaron and Cyril, and they had a much more diversified sound, but it was always the beat and sound of Poppa Funk that kept me coming back. “Cissy Strut”, the first song on the album is probably the most recognized, but each song that follows is just as good, in my opinion. “Here Comes the Meter Man”, “Cardova”, Live Wire”… the funk just keeps coming, and also sets the stage for second generation band Dumpstaphunk, featuring sons of Art and Aaron Neville.
This is perfect background and foreground music for just about any activity you enjoy, and the instrumental style allows you to focus and concentrate on their collective musicality. It is an absolute travesty how under-appreciated the Meters are to this day, and a joke they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Funk music is a favorite of mine, and it varies wildly by region across America, but I will put the Meters up against any funk band of any era, any day. They are just that good.