Listen to this track, a slab of vintage New Orleans funk by R&B architects and tight-grooved instrumental soul pioneers The Meters. It’s the classic “Cissy Strut” as taken from the band’s debut 1969 self-titled record, The Meters, overseen production-wise by Allen Toussaint. The tune was a minor hit, gaining in stature over the years as a textbook example of southern funk, laying down an interlocked groove underneath effervescent guitar and organ.
In some ways, the Meters were not unlike Booker T. & The MGs, in that they were relied upon as a label house band. The label in question was Allen Toussaint’s Sansu records. The band would work with a number of luminaries on the New Orleans scene, including Lee Dorsey, Dr. John, Earl King, Betty Harris, and others, including Allen Toussaint who would of course enjoy a solo career himself.
But, like the MGs, The Meters’ undeniable sound as an almost psychically-linked R&B unit would help them to rise above simple backing band status and into the R&B stratosphere. Well, at least this would be true critically speaking, if not in terms of fame outside of musician’s circles. Read more
Listen to this track from retro soul-jazzsters and Afrobeat enthused instrumentalists from Staten Island, NY The Budos Band. It’s their smokin’ Afrobeat-style jam “Up From the South” featured as the opening track on their eponymous 2005 Daptone Records release The Budos Band.
There are certain combinations of sounds that evoke certain musical and cultural associations, like the sound of horns, mixed with a B-3 organ, and congas. In some ways, it’s almost impossible to avoid mining the seam of a certain era of instrumental music when this combination of sounds is employed.
The Budos Band take their cues from classic 60s soul-jazz, to 70s funk, and to Afrobeat, particularly on this track where you expect Fela Kuti to start singing any second. Yet, despite the tried-and-true approach to making rhythmically interlocked music out of the elements that have come before, the music itself remains to be compelling, and viscerally so. This stuff is made for movement, good people; all kinds of movement. And with this track, does “Up From the South” refer to the progression of southern R&B to urban centers in northern cities, or does it mean something a bit more, shall we say, physical? I’m betting on the latter.