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Similarly Requested CDs
Another Grey Area
J P Ryan | Waltham, Massachusetts United States | 11/17/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The CD looks, on first glance, like a generous sampler that has several songs the casual fan may not recognize. Don't be fooled: though billed as a "Meters" comp, it replicates the same errors Rounder and Charly made on their early '90s anthologies. Additionally, the sound quality here lacks the warmth, presence and impact of the Sundazed label's remasters of the Meters' original albums, issued during 1999 - 2002, as well as Rhino's 1995 2-CD anthology.
By the time The Meters were conceived in 1967 Art Neville was already a veteran of the New Orleans music scene, having made his recording debut in 1955 with The Hawketts' 'Mardi Gras Mambo' on Chess. The next year Art signed with Specialty, where he released three solo singles (and recorded much more) and appeared on sessions (as pianist/backing vocalist) by Little Richard, Larry Williams, and others. Home after a stint in the Navy, Art was signed to Instant in 1961; the label released three singles; three more 45s, none of which made much noise outside New Orleans, appeared on Cinderella during 1963-'64, followed by a return to Instant, which issued a couple more during 1965 - 66.
Art concieved of his own band, initially inspired by Booker T. & The MG's, and hand picked the musicians during 1967. At first Neville Sounds included Cyril Neville, Aaron Neville, and (sax player) Gary Brown in addition to the four Meters, but when the manager of the Ivanhoe club offered the band a residency, he would only accomidate a quartet. Thus the Meters were born. Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn caught a few shows by the hottest band in town, and by late '67 was using The Meters as unofficial house band at his Sansu Records, where they backed Betty Harris, Lee Dorsey, and many others. Sansu issued two singles credited to Art Neville, 'Bo Diddley' and 'Heartaches'/'I'm Gonna Put Some Hurt On You', recorded December 1967. These feature Art's vocals but are in fact early Meters recordings, yet their origin as solo Art singles is not indicated on this CD (or the earlier Rounder and Charly collections). You can hear 'Bo' in a longer version, as well as an unissued track from these sessions, on the Sundazed anthology of material from Toussaint's Sansu days, "Get Low Down! The Soul of New Orleans 1965 - 67" in excellent sound. Also, Cyril Neville's 'Tell Me What's On Your Mind' and 'Gossip' (1969) is Cyril's debut single on Josie, with
The Meters providing killer backup. They can be found on numerous comps in superior sound, most recently Rhino's "What It Is! Rare Funk and Soul 1967 -77" box-set, which also contains serveral other enticing Meters-related rarities, and the single disc "Funky New Orleans" (Soul Jazz). The rest of the Meters material on this compilation lacks the sonic detail and warmth of the definitive Sundazed releases or any of the 'authorized' titles I have mentioned. If one wants a good overview - in excellent sound - I'd recommend Rhino's 2-CD "Funkify Your Life" which can be had, as I write this, on amazon for the price of a single CD. You'll end up wanting the original albums, which are all currently available as well. Forget these unauthorized, grey area imports. You'll be happier, and the group will too."