Mojo’s Cold Shot: The Meters, “Cabbage Alley”

Written by Mojo's Cold Shot, Music

The Meters, generally known for bringing some of the hottest funk in the 1970s, remain one of the “least underground” underground bands of all time. One of those bands you’ve heard of but you can’t name any of their songs, and if you can — I bet it’s “Cissy Strut” — then you still can’t hum a bar to save your life if you were born outside of the Crescent City. We here at Popdose hope to change that.

Part of why the Meters’ funk was so delectable — as much as, say, the locals will tell you the softshell crab at Brightsen’s is, even though you have to get off your lazy tourist bum and get out of the Quarter to taste you some — was because Art Neville and his funky colleagues built the band’s sound upon a beautiful blues/R&B foundation: the chords, the rhythms, the feel. While other funk bands were innovating, and in the case of Funkadelic getting downright experimental, the Meters pumped out solid retro sounds with the at-the-time wild new funk beats laid down by George Porter Jr., not a household name to the average fan, but to bass players a Mount Rushmore figure.

This back-to-the-future approach suits the New Orleans musi-cultural approach to everything, mingling the old junk with the new style. Whether it’s politics, architecture, outsider art, or “Cabbage Alley,” a Meters cut built on a couple slowed-down musical phrases from Professor Longhair’s famous hit “Tipitina” (so famous they named a bar after it), there’s no separating the influences. Damn, it’s good, like some sort of Creole stew that’s simmered just right. If you’re new to the Meters — who kind of morphed into the world-music-y pop group the Neville Brothers at some point, when Aaron and a couple other cats joined forces — there’s no finer place to start than Rhino’s The Very Best of the Meters, which includes this song.