Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Meters - Trick Bag (1976)


  

Released July 1976

Like many artists, The Meters decided to dabble in disco in 1976 and, unfortunately, it signalled the beginning of the end for this iconic New Orleans funk/soul group. There would be only more album after this one. It was largely an album of soul numbers and slightly more commercially-aimed dance-ish tracks, (at least at the outset), seriously lacking in the funk that was the cornerstone of their music at times, but, that said, the group were trying to move with the times, so maybe I am being a bit unfair. In fact, I think I am, as the album improves as it progresses.

TRACK LISTING

1. Disco Is The Thing Today
2. Find Yourself
3. All These Things
4. I Want To Be Loved By You
5. Suite For 20G
6. (Doodle Loop) The World Is A Little Bit Under The Weather
7. Trick Bag
8. Mister Moon
9. Chug-A-Lug
10. Hang 'Em High
11. Honky Tonk Women                                  

The opener "Disco Is The Thing Today" is an upbeat disco cut that sounds nothing like The Meters. This is actually the only disco track on the album, so the accusations of this being a "disco album" are pretty wide of the mark. "Find Yourself" is a slow paced soul chugger that is perfectly ok, and the same applies to "All These Things", which is a fetching smoocher. These soul tracks are pretty good, the latter in a Neville Brothers style, it has to be said. However, it is upon funk that The Meters made their name, and there is not much of that to be found here. "I Want To Be Loved By You" sees a bit of funk appear, slightly, but it is more of a muscular, bassy soul cut as opposed to funk. It features a killer organ break however. It is a good track, with an insistent soulful vibe to it.

"Suite For 20G" is a syncopated instrumental, featuring some disco-y synthesiser. Some funk is buried beneath the keyboards, though, and it has a spacey groove to it. "(Doodle Loop) The World Is A Little Bit Under The Weather" thankfully is a solid funker, with shades of Traffic's "Feelin' Alright". This showed they hadn't forgotten their musical roots, although it is still funk with a 1976 sheen to it. "Trick Bag" has a pumping funky soul feel to it. "Mister Moon" is also a funk number for the time with a great soul vocal with a Parliament vibe to it. It is one of the best tracks on the album.

"Chug-A-Lug" is a solid, punchy piece of funky soul. You know this album improves in its second half quite a bit. There is still some good material to be found here. "Hang 'Em High" is a cooking organ-driven cover of the spaghetti western them music. It is actually funky as hell. The final track is an interesting, gutsy cover of The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women", which works pretty well. The Meters opened for The Stones on their tour at the time. The album is certainly worthy of a bit of a reassessment. Either way, though, there would only be one more Meters album after this.

C+

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