Funk’s musical backbone, The Meters were the leading instrumental unit to emerge from the great gumbo of New Orleans sounds.
Their influence is far-reaching, from Sly Stone to the Grateful Dead and N.W.A.
James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament-Funkadelic all coasted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yet one of the true cornerstones of funk is still waiting for induction. The Meters were not only the leading instrumental unit to emerge from the great musical gumbo of New Orleans, they were also one of the tightest and hardest-grooving ensembles R&B has ever seen.
The Meters formed in 1965 with a line-up of keyboardist and vocalist Art Neville, guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist Geroge Porter Jr. and drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste; the group was later joined by percussionist/vocalist Cyril Neville. The Meters first came to local prominence as the house band for Allen Toussaint’s record label, Sansu.
In 1969, the band went on its own and released a string of definitive, irresistibly slamming singles – “Sophisticated Cissy,” “Cissy Strut,” “Look-Ka Py Py” and “Chicken Strut.” In the years that followed, the band became one of the hottest session groups in the world, working with Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer and LaBelle.
They recorded extensively with their homeboy Dr. John, including his Desitively Bonnaroo album and the smash hit “Right Place, Wrong Time,” and provided the musical backbone for such modern New Orleans classics as The Wild Tchoupitoulas and the Neville Brothers’ Fiyo On The Bayou.
With the explosion of hip-hop, the group became familiar to a new audience when its records were sampled countless times by the likes of RUN DMC, N.W.A, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys. Meters songs have been covered by everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Grateful Dead, illustrating the far-reaching influence of these masters of funk.
“Cissy Strut,” “Sophisticated Cissy,” The Meters (1969) • “Pungee,” Look-Ka Py Py (1970) • “Chicken Strut,” “Joog,” Struttin’ (1970) • Cabbage Alley (1972) • “People Say,” “Hey Pock A-Way,” Rejuvenation (1974) • Fire On The Bayou (1975) • New Directions (1977)