Sunday, 5 August 2018
The Meters - Cabbage Alley (1972)
Released May 1972
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.
1. Got The Change (You've Got To Reform)
2. Stay Away
4. The Flower Song
5. Soul Island
6. Do The Dirt
8. Lonesome And Unwanted People
9. Gettin' Funkier All The Time
10. Cabbage Alley
The album kicks off in great style with the extended funk of the seventies message-driven "You've Got To Change (You've Got To Reform)". It has a marvellous organ riff driving it along, with full, powerful drums and bass. The message is one of unity, and the band are certainly as one - listen to that bass near the end, then the wah-wah guitar kicks in - Lordy! "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 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!
"Gettin' 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.