Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Happy 50th Anniversary to The Meters Rejuvenation

Happy 50th Anniversary to The Meters stone cold classic, Rejuvenation.

Released in July 1974, Rejuvenation is a hell of an American funk record which truly brings the uniqueness of the New Orleans funk to the forefront. 

The band, Ziggy Modeliste – drums, composer, producer, vocals, Art Neville – keyboards, composer, producer, vocals, Leo Nocentelli – guitar, composer, producer, background vocals, George Porter Jr. – bass, composer, producer, background vocals, were in peak form throughout this offering.

The quartet recorded at (the new at the time) Sea-Saint Studios in New Orleans with producer extraordinaire Allen Toussaint. This was only the second Meters album to feature vocals (after 1972's Cabbage Alley) and remains their artistic highpoint. 

The album contains quite a few tracks that would become funk classics starting with the opening "People Say". Leo's killer guitar tone kicks off the album as the funk groove rolls in, followed by the horns, whose players seem to be uncredited from my research (will happily update this if you want to comment below on who they are).   

"Just Kissed My Baby" is another classic with the killer drumming from Ziggy leading the way and guest Lowell George helping out on slide guitar. "Jungle Man" has the Porter bass and Modeliste drums to power it forward and album closer "Africa" digs into the deep funk. When you have a rhythm section of Porter and Ziggy, one of the best of all-time, the funk feels alive on every effort. All four of these are dynamite numbers that will live forever and there are still other highpoints on the record!

Before those two tracks, it should be mentioned that while "Love Is For Me" and "Loving You Is On My Mind" don't reach the heights of other efforts here, they are from from bad. "Love Is For Me" is a touch cheesy, but still works with background singers and horns. "Loving You Is On My Mind" is a fine, Art led jazzy/pop interlude, it just feels out of place amongst the deep funk. 

However, the records two standouts show the wide range and talents of The Meters in mind expanding fashion, digging into their past and looking ahead into the future. With their version of "Hey Pocky A-Way" the group took from the Mardi Gras masking Indian tradition and spun it up with their funk, just as they would expand upon during the fantastic Wild Tchoupitoulas album a few years later. The tune has been covered by hundreds and it is hard to give any definitive version, but The Meters are clearly in that conversation with this fantastic recording that has the whole band locked in.

Speaking of locked in, here comes "It Ain't No Use". Up until this album The Meters were mostly known for short, catchy grooves that you could dance to, however with the almost twelve minute "It Ain't No Use" there has clearly been some Funkadelic influence spilled into the NOLA gumbo as the band gets out there. The four players are so good together that it doesn't feel like excess, in fact it feels a bit too short as if they just wanted to keep grooving all night, which of course they did live.

The pinnacle of studio work from one of the best American bands ever, enjoy the 50th Anniversary of The Meters Rejuvenation by playing it loud and getting down today. 


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