Record of the day: The Meters, "Uptown Rulers!"

Record of the day: The Meters, “Uptown Rulers!”

The Meters
Uptown Rulers! (Cd Rhino R2 70376)

To celebrate the release of their album “Venus and Mars” in 1975, Paul and Linda McCartney organized a spectacular party on board the Queen Mary, an ocean liner once intended for cruises by Anglo-Saxon nobility and later transformed into a tourist attraction, anchored in the port of Long Beach near Los Angeles.
On board, in addition to hundreds of guests, McCartney summoned several musicians from New Orleans, where his album had been recorded. On the stage set up for the occasion, Professor Longhair, master of the piano, paraded first, followed later by the funkiest group that has ever appeared in the history of New Orleans, the Meters.

Leo Nocentelli (guitar), George Porter (bass) and Zigaboo Modeliste (drums) are among the most enthralling rhythm sections of all time, capable of cooking hot grooves in which jazz, funk and soul come together in a unique way, you have to listen to them to believe it. Above this unstoppable rhythmic machine, Art Neville's keyboards and his brother Cyril's voice range across the board between hits such as “Cissy Strut”, “Hey Pocky A-Way”, “Fire on the Bayou”, “Africa” ​​and revisitations of other people's songs like “It's Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers and “Love the One You're With” by Stephen Stills.

Even if the recording quality is not particularly defined or brilliant, the power unleashed by the Meters in concert still manages to transmit itself thanks to the musicians' ability to create a compact instrumental ensemble, which like a bullet immediately reaches the target, that is, to entertain all the spectators present (which one thinks of with a bit of envy).

The Meters' talent developed under the protective wing of guru Allen Toussaint, protagonist of the New Orleans scene, who taught them the art of essentiality put at the service of rhythmic energy.
Every now and then they also allow themselves a break, managing to make even a mediocre song like “Make It with You” by Bread interesting and full of feeling (where a quote from the jazz classic “Moody's Mood” also appears fleetingly); just enough time to catch your breath and we start again at full speed with “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu” and “Mardi Gras Mambo” which brings the album to a close but certainly not the party, which ended only the next morning in a blaze of fires artificial.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.