Funky New Orleans: The Meters Live

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of an item we ran a couple of years ago, reappearing here to help get everyone in that Mardi Gras mood. The links have been updated and the Meters are still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Radio used to be magic.  When the stars aligned, and the right artist played the right venue and radio was there, it could be just beautiful.  Here’s one of those moments: January 1977, at the Showboat Lounge in the Fat City entertainment district of Metairie, which is a suburb of New Orleans.  January in New Orleans is carnival season, and WNOE radio in the Crescent City marked the occasion with an hour-long live show by the always incredible Meters.

The band – featuring Art Neville on keyboards and vocals, Zigaboo Modeliste on drums, George Porter Jr. on bass and Leo Nocentelli on guitar (Cyril Neville may or may not have been an official member of the band, and he wasn’t at this gig) – ripped through some of their Mardi Gras anthems and some seriously greasy second-line funk.

In 1977 the Meters were about as big as they were gonna get: they had put out four albums on Warner Bros., they had opened for the Rolling Stones on their big 1975-76 world tour, they played Paul McCartney’s Venus and Mars party on the Queen Mary in 1974 and later in 1977 they were going to appear on “Saturday Night Live.”  But here they are, in a small joint doing shout-outs on local radio.  Only in New Orleans, and only in that era.  Unfortunately, later in 1977 the Meters would also break up.

This recording captures one of American music’s great bands, tight as high-tension wire but playing as loose and funky as humanly possible.  The recording has amplifier hum as well as that weird FM noise and a really smooth DJ cuts in every once in a while to let you know who dat.  There are also a couple of very minor skips and hiccups (toward the end of “Hey Pocky Way”), but nothing can take away from this great music.

As Art Neville says, “It’s Mardi Gras time all the time, as far as we’re concerned.”  Cook up some red beans and rice or cue this up in the car … and wonder why these guys aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

MP3: The Meters live at the Showboat Lounge, WNOE-FM, January 1977 (70 minutes)

Song order: “Just Kissed My Baby”/ “Big Chief”/ “Jungle Man”/ “They All Ask’d For You”/ “Hey Pocky Way”/ “People Say”/ “Ain’t No Use”/ “Po Boy Jam” /”Feel Da Groove”

The Original Meters official website

3 Responses to “Funky New Orleans: The Meters Live”

  1. Wow! This is pretty amazing. In 1977, I was so wrapped up in Bruce Springsteen that I barely knew there was anything else going on. Luckily, things have changed.

    I forwarded this on to Editilla at the New Orleans Ladder (www.noladder.blogspot.com); you should get a link from him. I’m adding you to my blog roll as well. You might enjoy a side blog I administer called Just A Song at http://www.justasong2.blogspot.com. We have fun with it.

  2. 30daysout Says:

    Thanks Citizen K. ! This is a fairly well-known show but it doesn’t make the internet rounds as much as you would think … Welcome, hope you like our blog. We have added “Just A Song” to our blogroll.

  3. Thanks, this is a real treat, and it brings back many fond memories! I was lucky enough to see the Meters many times in those days. They played at our high school’s dance in the fall of 1974 when the Rejuvenation album with “Hey Pocky Way” had just come out. I recall reading in Time Magazine that they listed both Rejuvenation and Fire on the Bayou among its 10 best albums in 1974 and 1976, and thinking at the time that we had a little known national treasure in our city. Sure, the Neville Brothers who came after them are terrific, but the Meters had something that will never be equaled.

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