The Meters –
Joseph ‘Zigaboo’ Modeliste (left), George Porter (second from left)
“Listen -George Porter’s Joyride – Cissy Strut – MP3″
“Listen -George Porter’s Joyride – Sneaky Freaky – MP3″
“Listen -Zig and Gaboon’s Gang – Let’s Get Fired Up – MP3″
I hope everyone had a groovy weekend.
My medical procedure on Friday was actually not quite as bad as I thought it would be. Not exactly a hoot either, but grading on the curve, nothing I’ll have nightmares about.
The tunes I bring you today fell into my crates many years apart, but thanks to an obvious (and meaningful) connection it behooves me to present them to you in tandem.
Now… show of hands…who among you isn’t familiar with the Meters?
OK…those of you with your hands up, back away from the interwebs, slip on your digging shoes and head out into the field until you acquire any and all of their extremely easy to find 45s (the LPs not so much, but if you can find them cheap, good on you). Once you are in possession of some of the unfuckwithably funkiest music ever crafted in New Orleans, nay the world, and you’ve had a suitable time in which to restore the smooth contours to your brains, feel free to return to the discussion.
For the rest of you, we’ll just go ahead and rap.
The Meters, as stated above (and several times in this very space over the course of the history of Funky16Corners) were one of the greatest of classic era funk bands, laying down a few of what are undisputably (to any sane listener) the greatest grooves ever committed to vinyl.
If you’ve ever heard ‘Cardova’, and not had your spine rattle and shift (along with your general musical sensibility), then you are probably deaf.
That said, after several years – including a few before the Meters during which they were pretty much Art Neville’s band, recording on a wide variety of New Orleans records – and a number of albums for Josie and then Warner Brothers, they dissolved in 1978.
It was, coincidentally, two years further on up the road when bassist George Porter, and drummer Zig Modeliste got their own things together (separately), creating post-Meters bands.
Porter’s group, Joyride included guitarist Bruce McDonald, drummer Ricky Sebastian and keyboardist Sam Henry. They recorded one 45 for Deesu, and one for their own Chippewa label, as well as an albums worth of unreleased material.
Zig Modeliste formed Zig and Gaboon’s Gang around the same time with a band that included the young Ivan Neville on keyboards. Their actual vinyl output was limited to a single 45 for the Orleans International label (rumored to have been bankrolled/commissioned by a fried chicken chain), a New Orleans Saints “fight song” of sorts entitled ‘Let’s Get Fired Up’. They also recorded a live set that saw release many years later.
The recorded results of both of these 45s are evidence that while both of these musicians was crucial to the sound of the Meters, having gone their separate ways they took their music in new directions.
The George Porter’s Joyride record (though some comments over at the Home of the Groove blog suggest that the Deesu 45 is actually Porter backed by studio musicians) sees an updated (and less groove heavy) version of the Meters chestnut ‘Cissy Strut’, which employs some decidedly 1980-ish keyboard sounds and production. By no means is it a bad record, but laid side to side with the OG it tends to suffer in comparison. The flipside, ‘Sneak Freaky’ also bears a time-appropriate sound, but since it is a group original, the sound works much better in a funky synth bag with some great drumming. In retrospect the feel aspires to some of the un-loose looseness so indicative of great New Orleans records, especially the sounds of the Meters.
‘Let’s Get Fired Up’ by Zig and Gaboon’s Gang is an aggressive slice of commercial funk that sounds like it could have been created in New York or LA. The production and playing are tight, and the football-related lyrics manage not to overpower the proceedings. I wouldn’t hesitate to drop the needle on this one at a funk night.
As it is, neither of these bands appears to have survived more than a few years, with Porter working steadily as a studio musician, eventually reuiniting with Art Neville in the Funky Meters. Zig Modeliste also had a serious career as a hired gun, and is currently playing and recording with Zigaboo Modeliste and the New Aahkesstra.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back on Wednesday.