Personally, I feel they got even better when, alongside the copper-bottomed funk cuts, they added vocals and laid down some underrated soul numbers, their albums became more rounded and fulfilled then. Nevertheless, this is a masterpiece of its kind - a whole album of classic instrumental funk tracks that have not dated all these years later. Just put on Sophisticated Sissy as a great example of languid, effortless infectious funk, or the addictive groove of Ease Back.
This Is My Last Affair must surely have influenced Elvis Costello when writing songs for Get Happy!!, just check out the rumbling bass, melodic organ riffs and drums. You almost expect Costello to start singing. Funky Miracle has a captivating shuffling beat, as does Pungee. Also, the vibe on Yeah You're Right is just so captivating. Perfect. All this material just sounds like perfect funky backing tracks and all have a pre-blaxploitation upbeat urban, down 'n' dirty groove to them. I have to say, also, that the sound quality is truly outstanding throughout, particularly considering it was recorded in 1969. Highly recommended.
That addictive rhythm continues on the wonderful, bassy groove of the instrumental Joog. Go For Yourself is a delicious organ-driven instrumental. Same Old Thing has them going very James Brown. The funk The Meters came up with is totally energising, I have to say. Clap Your Hands is similarly catchy, while Darling Darling Darling is a sumptuous slice of Stax-style soul, with a Sam Cooke-esque vocal and bass and organ riffs to die for. Look, the album continues in the same vein to the end - funky as hell instrumentals on the whole like the irresistible Britches that just take over as you listen to them. As I said earlier, you know what you're going to get and if it is to your taste, you're in for a treat. Their cover of Lee Dorsey's Northern Soul classic Ride Your Pony is given a sixties-style funky, pounding makeover. Great stuff. A highly recommended classic album of its genre. Check out the various solos on Funky Meters Soul for compelling evidence.
If it is pure 1970s funk you are after, then you cannot go far wrong with The Meters. They were probably the best of their genre around. The sound quality on this remasters is excellent, with a nice seventies stereo sound and full, warm bass tones. The group had been around since the mid-sixties. This was their fourth album. In many ways they are the personification of the New Orleans funky soul sound.
Stay Away has a pulsating drum-cymbals-guitar intro. It is a real funky grinder of a track, with a soulfully gruff vocal and a funky drum solo half way through cut open by some searing electric guitar. I recognised Neil Young's Birds from its cover by Paul Weller on Studio 150. The Meters' version here is wonderful and soulful. The Flower Song is a mid-pace, solidly piece of funky instrumental. I have to keep typing "funky" in this review because there is so much raw funk on this album that there is no other adjective to use. It is simply funk of the highest quality. The guitar-drum interplay near the end of this track is awesome.
The riff on Soul Island is hypnotic and so recognisable. Infuriatingly I can't place it, something that always drives me insane. It has definitely been sampled somewhere. Do The Dirt ("do the doit" as it is sung) is so funky it hurts. I have read one critic say that the problem with The Meters was that they had no decent songs to hang their rhythms on. I feel firstly, that is somewhat harsh and, secondly, when you have backing like this, does it matter? Smiling is another top notch instrumental. It is all about the sound. You want lyrics, listen to Bob Dylan. You want perfect pop, listen to Motown. You want sublime seventies funk, listen to The Meters. The answer to that negative argument can be heard in the irresistible soul Heaven that is Lonesome And Unwanted People, that was surely influential on some of Traffic's mid-seventies soul/rock output, like Walking In The Wind, for example. This is a magnificent track. "No songs?". Do me a favour!
Getting' Funkier All The Time starts with a kick-posterior bass line and has that typical seventies slightly nasal funk vocal. It is a very "blaxploitation"-style urban groover. Cabbage Alley is a piano-driven, lively boogie-ish romp with some excellent instrumental soloing. This is a highly recommended album. A pleasure to listen to.
New Directions (1977)
Funkify Your Life is, as the title would suggest, a superbly funky workout, with hints of Parliament-Funkadelic. Stop That Train is The Meters first venture into reggae, and they do it pretty convincingly with their cover of Peter Tosh's classic. It fitted in to the crossover into reggae that became fashionable in 1977 with the punk/reggae thing. We Got The Kind Of A Love is back to sumptuous soul with a Harold Melvin meets Third World ballad. The backing vocals are very Third World. Give It What You Can is a gritty, industrial piece of thumping horn-powered funk rock, with a socially-conscious message and some great vocals. This is not a bad album to bow out with. A nice mix of funk, soul and reggae. It was a shame The Meters decided to call it a day after this, particularly as the album was titled New Directions, but there you go.
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