Sunday, 23 December 2018

The Meters - Rejuvenation (1974)

Love is for me....

  

Released July 1974

Recorded in New Orleans

This was New Orleans funkers The Meters first album since “Cabbage Alley” in 1972. They were now on a new label ("Cabbage Alley" was the first on Reprise Records) and the album’s title gave a strong hint of a new birth. As on the previous album, vocals were much more to the fore than they had been on their first three albums (on Josie Records). Musically, though, it is pretty much what you would expect - solid, muscular funk - although the production is slightly more polished and less edgy than previous earthy offerings, it is still very funkily essential. The Meters led the way in seventies funk, of that there is no doubt. The album's cover is pretty garishly tasteless, though, not that it really matters!

TRACK LISTING

1. People Say
2. Love Is For Me
3. Just Kissed My Baby
4. Watcha Say
5. Jungle Man
6. Hey Pocky A-Way
7. It Ain't No Use
8. Loving You Is On My Mind
9. Africa                                                        

“People Say” is five minutes of typical Meters copper-bottomed funk. They show a Stax-ish soul side, however, on the sumptuous, horn-driven soul majesty of “Love Is For Me”. This is simply a magnificent, uplifting piece of classic soul, far more soul than funk, which is surprising. This is where the slight change in style is most apparent. The funk returns in the intoxicating wah-wah and bass of the down and dirty  “Just Kissed My Baby”, which gets into its groove and just keeps going. “Watcha Say” continues the James Brown-esque funk but with a spacey Earth, Wind And Fire feel, admittedly before the latter adopted that style, so this may well have been an influence. I have to mention also that the sound quality is excellent throughout this album.

“Jungle Man” is a bassy, rumbling slice of urban Blaxploitation funk, very typical of its era. Proper seventies growling funk. “Hey Pocky A-Way” cooks, big time, full of catchy brass bursts and another irresistible funky backing. The sublime guitar on “It Ain’t No Use” is almost Santana-like and the vocal and percussion reminiscent of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Family Affair”. This really is a great track, full of virtuosity.  It is nearly twelve minutes long, but it never gets tiring. The Meters at their best, but developing from their earlier, shorter workouts.

“Loving You Is On My Mind” is a lively, piano-driven soul semi-instrumental featuring only occasional vocals. It has a killer bass line underpinning it. Again, it shows a slight move away from more typical Meters fare. “Africa” ends the album with some more recognisable thumping funk, with airs of the UK’s Cymande, for me. It is a culturally-conscious number with a Graham Central Station feel to it.

Just as with The Meters’ other albums, you can’t go far wrong with this album if powerful seventies funk appeals to you. Highly recommended.

B

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