Though The Meters were never superstars, recording sessions with Dr John, Paul McCartney and Robert Palmer attested to the appreciation they were later afforded by their peers.
The band evolved from a seven-piece group called The Neville Sounds, featuring Aaron and Cyril Neville on vocals.
Their first two hits, Sophisticated Sissy and Sissy Strut (both 1969) charted highly and became prime examples of what would become known as funk.
The sizzling backbeat of Modeliste, Porter and Nocentelli’s limber riffing and Neville’s percussive keyboard playing anchored a whole slew of funk classics: Chicken Strut, Look-A-Py-Py, Ease Back, Hand Clapping Song and Message From The Meters.
Their first three albums (on the Josie label) – The Meters (1969), Look-A-Py-Py and Struttin’ (both 1970) – all provided a delicious stew of styles from the laid-back Caribbean feel of Ease Back to the fatback funk of Stretch Your Rubber Band.
The success of those albums encouraged The Meters to evolve their style and hookup with major label Reprise in 1971.
They introduced vocals back into the mix and used new studio effects. They also developed their songwriting skills, as evidenced by classic tracks such as People Say.
Reprise, unfortunately, didn’t know how to promote The Meters, and their albums for the label – Cabbage Alley (1972), Rejuvenation (1974) and Trick Bag (1975) – largely fell by the wayside.
By the late 70s the band were beginning to tear apart, and their final album, New Directions (1977) flopped.
The Meters reunited briefly in 1980, 1984 and 1988 (this time without Modeliste). The group re-formed in the 90s and 2000s – sometimes playing as The Funky Meters.
George Porter Jr
Joseph ‘Zigaboo’ Modeliste