Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday Funkdown | The Meters

The Meters were a New Orleans-based band that was active from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s.  Original band members were Art Neville (vocals), Leo Nocentelli (guitar), George Porter Jr. (bass) and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste (drums).  Their sound is undeniable earthy and groovy and can be heard in such tracks as “Cissy Strut”, “Sophisticated Cissy”, “Look-Ka-Py-Py” and my favorite “The Hand Clapping Song”.
In 1974, they were invited to play a private party for Paul McCarthy.  He was releasing his album Venus and Mars aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.  Soon after they toured world with The Rolling Stones in 1975 and 1976.  The band broke up in 1977.
Neville went on to gain huge success with The Neville Brothers, and after playing drums for Keith Richards, Zigaboo Modeliste decided to sue his producers over a contract dispute.  Zigaboo’s lawsuit continues to this day.  In his words; “When I found out how we was pillaged, how we was misused and abused, I couldn't get over it.  I just completely put the drums in the closet.”
Although they were never a big mainstream success, The Meters were highly influential to the funk movement.  Their music has been sampled by numerous hip-hop artists over the years, most notably Public Enemy, Gang Starr, Cypress Hill,  N.W.A., and Ice Cube in the late 80s/early 90s.
Doug Motta, who continues to enlighten me in the “I thought that sounded familiar” category of music, introduced me to this band.  I was amazed by the amount of samples that created some of my favorite songs of that era.  If it wasn’t for The Meters, we would have missed out on this hip-hop classic!

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