November 28, 2005



I learned on Friday night that The Meters are no longer the property of funk nerds, Josie fiends or Ice Cube and The Boogie Men. They were kidnapped by rasty drunken folks in the early 1990s when the band returned to the stage as The Funky Meters. Having enlisted in The Plastic Bead Army (and, God hopes, gotten a truck full of scrip for their service), the band has forsaken its glued-tight Josie machines for slack improv (P-Funk they are not) and air guitar played on actual guitar. Why Leo Nocentelli, the unearthly human who came up with "Tippi-Toes," the greatest rhythm guitar part of all time, would stoop to this had better have a lot to do with money.

Sample banter:

Zig: "Who knows about the GREEN BUD?" Much whooping. Much off-time drunken stumbling.

The good news is they can still play their asses off. While watching the band, you do not have the uneasy "What's wrong with that one?" thoughts invoked by some beloved bands after they've gone grey and returned to the road. The Meters started with a long version of Sly's "Sing A Simple Song"—nothing like their recorded version—and though the funk wasn't completely tensile, the feel and time were dead on.

When they hit "Cissy Strut," I was in heaven. I love George Porter, Jr.—his Big Uncle smile, his hairy and overblown bass sound. If they had played "Doodle-Oop," I would have burst a blood vessel. But the show went straight to the loosey-goosey flapping for broheems and brohettes puking all over the world. And "Be My Lady"? Because, they announced, it was a "hit" in New York 28 years ago? It was? (Their highest charting single was "Cissy Strut" in 1969. 1977's "Be My Lady" didn't chart on Billboard, according to Whitburn.)

I sure was happy when they played "Cardova," after what seemed like two hours (more likely 45 minutes) of half-hearted vamps and pauses. I salute Leo's introduction of Zig as "the most sampled drummer of all time," but I am not sure I can get with that. Clyde Stubblefield and that guy from the Skull Snaps (or equivalent guy from the Soul Searchers) have put in many virtual appearances.

Who goes to see such shows in New York? Not rappers. During a song—maybe "Funkify Your Life"? I forget—Zig asked for a rapper to come up and freestyle. Nobody moved, so a member of his road crew got up and rapped about the Fifth Ward. Yay. But Zig wanted a local. Nobody stepped up. "What the hell's going on? We can't get a rapper in New York?" I don't think there was even a rapper's lawyer in the house.

Long may they taken drunken people's money, but let them give us loving nerds a one-time gift: the entire Josie catalog performed in order, no improv. I'd auction my left one for that. They could actually pull it off, which makes it even more frustrating that they don't. Imagine—the entire Flavor Unit would probably come out.

Posted by Sasha at November 28, 2005 10:58 AM | TrackBack