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Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology

The Meters

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Album Review

Rhino's Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology was the first truly comprehensive and widely available CD retrospective of the groundbreaking New Orleans funk band's work. These two chronologically arranged discs run down virtually every important track the band recorded under its own name, finally allowing a more general audience to hear why the Meters had earned such a stellar reputation among die-hard funk collectors and sample-minded hip-hoppers. Disc one, subtitled "The Josie Years," traces the group's 1969-1971 beginnings as a Booker T. & the MG's-like outfit, cutting brief instrumentals with a similar guitar/organ/bass/drums lineup. There were important differences, though; the Meters' arrangements usually carried the melody in single-note guitar lines, which gave them a distinctive calling card, and their rhythms were notably funkier. In fact, drummer Joseph "Ziggy" Modeliste pretty much establishes himself as a monster groove machine right from the beginning; his is a dominating rhythmic presence. This is the lean, earthy Meters sound most often imitated by latter-day funk revivalists like the Soul Fire label. Group vocals and wah-wah guitars start to pop up over the second half of the disc, setting the stage for their more ambitious major-label sound, which is documented on the second disc ("The Reprise/Warner Bros. Years"). Nearly all of these tracks are vocal numbers, "songs" in the more traditional sense, but the group also opens its sound up, allowing the members to show off their individual chops as soloists. There's more flash in this music, including plenty of nimble-fingered unison passages demonstrating that the band can be as tight as they are loose. It's more proof that the Meters were the most telepathic funk ensemble this side of the J.B.'s. Those with a casual interest can safely content themselves with the fine single-disc Very Best of the Meters, but for devoted funk fans, Funkify Your Life should be considered essential listening.

Customer Reviews

Thou shalt FUNKIFY

Collection of the greatest songs of the New Orleans funkmasters from the 70s: the Meters. Must have album/anthology with MOST of the Meters greats. It is mostly a collection of earlier works, characterized by the 1-2-3 simplicity of the riffs and bass-drum rhythm. Raw funk New Orleans style devoid of vocals or synthesized enhancement- classic instrumental funkucation 101. Some songs with singing- like my favorite NOT INCLUDED in this partial album: "I Need Mo Time". I vote for FULL albums.

The Meters Anthology

Several of the songs on this compilation are out of order. Zony Mash, Stretch Your Rubber Band and The World Is a Little Bit Under The Weather to name a few. Still this compilation is funky as hell!

What happened to disc 2?

Don't skip it, but I guess if you love the Meters you'll go elsewhere to get the meat of this collection. Disc 2 has tons of goodies, but I'm left wondering why they only included disc 1. God bless the (funky) Meters! (My rating is based on the 2-disc collection.)

Biography

Formed: 1966 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Meters defined New Orleans funk, not only on their own recordings, but also as the backing band for numerous artists, including many produced by Allen Toussaint. Where the funk of Sly Stone and James Brown was wild, careening, and determinedly urban, the Meters were down-home and earthy. Nearly all of their own recordings were instrumentals, putting the emphasis on the organic and complex rhythms. The syncopated, layered percussion intertwined with the gritty grooves of the guitar and organ,...
Full Bio