In our trawl through the funk greats that have influenced the world with their unique sound, we’ve focused on the well known. You can’t get heavier than The Godfather of Soul, The Minister Of New, Heavy Heavy Funk – the inimitable James Brown. And it’s hard to top the influence of Sly Stone and his multi-cultural Family – they were the funk side of the Flower Children’s soundtrack. The Meters, however, defined New Orleans funk. Yet however pervasive their influence, they’ve often sat in the shadows of those giants of the funk pantheon. Their influence, spread via thorough distribution of their nigh completely instrumental oeuvre, mainly affected other musicians. You’d be hard pressed to find a musician – from whatever walk – that wouldn’t happily mimic this ubiquitous four piece, though you’d be equally stumped if you tried to explain to your less-hip older uncle why drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste’s second-line strut was as important as Clyde Stubblefield’s funky thunder.
This compilation focuses on the influence of the Meters’ Josie years. The band’s biggest hit, “Cissy Strut,” is the most widely covered song from their repertoire and we present it here in no less than eight forms. King Herbert and The Knights present a faithful, jazz-funk cover, originally released on their rare Paragon album in Canada. The Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band show the band’s influence on the Caribbean with this live, steel-drum orchestrated version. Bluesman Rod Piazza got a bit funky on his novelty cover of the song, most famous within the Hip Hop-sampling community for its utilitarian drum break. Peru’s Los Masters offer up a bit of a garagey-version; it seems as if the band’s influence spread mostly within the rock community South of the border. And a bit north of the border, in Texas, Joe Bravo commandeers a blast of mariachi-influenced Tejano funk with his superlative version of the song.
It would be impossible to close an overview of the Meters’ funk influence without including examples of those independently-released, regional recordings that paid homage to the Meters’ oft-imitated, but rarely bested, style. Though these songs all sound quite different upon a surface listen, a deeper inspection will reveal that the sound of New Orleans’ beloved combo, propelled the funk movement in ways that certainly complemented maestros Brown and Stewart.