It’s Time To Enshrine The Meters/Neville Brothers!


The Neville Brothers

If there is anyone who deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s Art Neville.  He should have been one of the first guys to get in there.  Art is the cornerstone of two of the greatest bands of all time- both of which should have been in the Rock Hall a long time ago.

Of course, Art Neville is the keyboardist and singer of The Meters (sometimes known as the Funky Meters), simply the finest bunch of musicians to ever come out of New Orleans.  The Meters – guitarist Leo Nocentelli, drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, bass player George Porter Jr. and Art Neville – collaborated with the great Allen Toussaint on landmark recordings.  They appear on “Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John, “Lady Marmalade” by Labelle, “Listen To What the Man Said” by Paul McCartney and Wings, and countless other hits.

The Meters also made their own records, and they are great.  They worked as a mostly instrumental unit in the late 1960s and early 1970s, cranking out such funky standards as “Look-Ka Py Py” and “Cissy Strut.”  But in 1972 they signed with Warner Bros./Reprise and added Art’s little brother Cyril on vocals and bongos, and kicked off a creative period that included the classic albums Rejuvenation (1974) and Fire On The Bayou (1975).  “Hey Pocky Way,” the monster track from Rejuvenation, kicks off with an Art Neville piano lick that virtually defines New Orleans music.


The original Meters

In 1976 George “Big Chief Jolly” Landry began recording an album of New Orleans Mardi Gras music with his Wild Tchoupitoulas “Indians” (a social group known for its elaborate costumes during Mardi Gras).  The one trouble was, the Tchoupitoulas weren’t musicians.  But Landry just happened to have a few nephews who were – they were all named Neville.  So the Meters served as the Tchoupitoulas rhythm section and for fun they invited brother Aaron Neville to sit in.  They covered “Hey Pocky Way” again (the Nevilles would also do it later).

Aaron has one of the most soulful voices on the planet.  He had a hit, “Tell It Like It Is,” but had never performed on record with his brothers.  So after The Wild Tchoupitoulas project, the Neville Brothers became a working unit.  Their first album didn’t have much going for it, but the Bro’s hit their stride with the classic Fiyo On The Bayou (1981) which assimilated the unmatched New Orleans vibe.   Every time the Nevilles would subsequently try to get their music out of the Crescent city they failed.

But in 1989 they linked up with super producer Daniel Lanois for Yellow Moon, a classic that triumphantly mixes the New Orleans rhythms with then-current touches like hip-hop.  The Neville Brothers are a killer live act today; you may not see Art Neville play with them because health problems occasionally prevent him from travelling too far from his New Orleans home.

The Funky Meters (without Nocentelli and Modeliste) also perform frequently also, catch them this spring at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest.  And there was that great moment, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the original Meters and the Neville Brothers came together to perform and call attention to the plight of hurricane-stricken victims in their hometown.

The Meters and the Neville Brothers are more deserving than half the people who have long been in the Rock Hall.  Perhaps voters discriminate, because the Nevilles operate out of New Orleans rather than L.A. or New York, or perhaps they’re just not listening.  And that’s a crime.

MP3: “Look-Ka Py Py” by the Meters

MP3: “Cissy Strut” by the Meters

MP3: “Hey Pocky Way” by the Meters

MP3: “Big Chief (Got A Golden Crown)” by the Wild Tchoupitoulas

MP3: “Brother John/Iko Iko” by the Neville Brothers

MP3: “Yellow Moon”  (live at Austin City Limits) by the Neville Brothers

MP3: “Fire On The Bayou” by the Neville Brothers

The Funky Meters official website

The Neville Brothers official website

One Response to “It’s Time To Enshrine The Meters/Neville Brothers!”

  1. Here, here. And Tom Dowd too (see the campaign for him on Facebook). The hall has become more or less a joke, so I wonder if it really matters. And yet, when I see the artists, especially the older ones, being enshrined, I can see how much the recognition means to them. On that basis, Nevilles, Meters belong for sure.

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