This is my first encounter with The Meters, the legendary New Orleans funk band, at least on their own. (I think I may have heard a few songs through the years where they were the backing band.) So I’m happy to report that this is a legitimately funky record.
Funk is one of those genres which is sort of hard to evaluate because so many bands within the genre don’t really want to evolve in any artistic sense of the term, they just put out record after record of what they feel like is the best expression of their sound at a given time, and the audience is left to decide which album(s) is really most representative or the best expression of that sound, or the one we like the most. And because this is my first Meters record, I have no idea.
Also, though I listen to a lot of funk relative to many 37-year-old white guys, I can’t say I’ve listened to so much that I can hear the regional differences without some kind of reference or codex. That is to say, I have little context, or at lest not enough specific context concerning New Orleans funk in general and the Meters in particular.
But I like what I hear:
Though there are plenty of instruments – in addition to the band there’s a horn section and sometimes backing vocals – the sound is pretty lean. It seems as though the horns are mixed to one channel and the backing vocals to another (or the same one?) and so they don’t have the fullness you might want in some types of music. But for me I appreciate the leanness; I don’t necessarily want this record to sound dense and lush. There’s space and I often find with funk that the rhythms feel funkier when they have space to breathe.
The melodies are a titch generic – a couple of them start out sounding like other R&B songs so much that I almost thought were covers – and the lyrics are typical for the genre (i.e. lazy).
But I like the band and I like the sound.