Funk

‘Struttin’ ‘ – The Meters (1970)

Strut (verb): To walk with a proud gait.

Strut (noun): A bar forming part of a framework and designed to resist compression.

Quite an apt title for this bona fida funk classic – an album that will awaken your inner swagger and a work that is an indispensable part of the history of the funk genre, guaranteed to repel obsolescence.

The Meters, originally a five-man band from New Orleans, are often mentioned in the same breath as James Brown for their role in originating and popularising the genre. Their hit ‘Cissy Strut’ is one of those tracks you don’t know you know until you hear it – a song that could be argued has become a distinct part of our collective musical consciousness:

Daymn! If that joint isn’t acting as an incentive to take a punt on this record, then nothing will… ever! This tracks sums up The Meters’ style – short, simple, sweet and ridiculously funky.

‘Struttin’’ hits the ground running, ‘Chicken Strut’ starting the album off on a decidedly odd note – possibly the deranged cries of a fella trying to corral his farmyard animals! We‘re met with bewildered chicken noises later on as they’re hunted into some shed! While a bit off-pitting perhaps on first listen, you soon grow to embrace the absurdity of it, thanks in no small part to the undeniable catchy guitar melodies. Later on, bands such as the mighty Funkadelic would carry on the torch for sheer goofiness in funk.

Afterwards ‘Liver Splash’ hits, a delicious jam that ebbs with some lazy guitar and bass interplay and flows with a nice, little, fiery solo. This is followed by a gorgeous cover of ‘Wichita Linesman,’ a song originally recorded by Glenn Campbell. This is a real intimate, bluesy version that oozes atmosphere and class. Just listen to the forlorn effect achieved with the guitar and organ at the beginning. Art Neville’s voice is really rousing here too. Truly lovely stuff.

‘Joog’ is another dallying, carefree instrumental that bops along to its own mild saunter. ‘Go For Yourself’ packs more jive, the bass, guitar and organ stabs engendering a smooth harmony before we’re treated to some intense organ playing and a cracking drum breakdown before the instrumentalists all rally together again for a final melodic encore.

‘Same Old Thing’ keeps the tempo high – a brash, energetic, head-nodding cut, the lyric ‘Same old thing, but it still is good yo!’ reminding us that although the musical intention throughout the album remains constant, The Meters have buckets of soul, merriness and pure, unalloyed funk to keep you hooked.

‘Handclapping Song’ arrives next, a definite Meters classic. Again, the funkiness is evident from the opening seconds, a groove that’s sure to make you throw your hands up and let out a ‘hallelujah!’ The handclaps add a different element, encouraging you to clap along and belt out the lyrics. Delicious.

‘Darling, Darling, Darling’ is highly enjoyable – a lovely, light-hearted love song with a terrific guitar/organ flourish. I’m really fond of ‘Tippi-Toes’ as well with its addictive, tightly played guitar and swinging bass.

‘Britches’ is next and you better pull them up in advance because they’re guaranteed to start slipping during this buoyant, toe-tapping, earthy jam! ‘Hey! Last Minute’ sways with an ice-cool drum break: an easy, mellow slice of funky breeziness.

‘Ride Your Pony’ is a real dancefloor energiser, flowing along with its lively beat and dynamic guitar riff. This cut itself sounds like a stallion, galloping down the funk freeway. A big song.

The CD version has two worthwhile extras – ‘Funky Meters’ Soul’ which is one of those cool tracks where the vocalist introduces each musician before they do a little solo jam, lending the track an invigorating live feel to it. ‘Meter Strut’ ends the release on a cheery note, a spirited, nimble workout, the bass adding a tense, swelling edge to the beat.

Overall, you cannot fault this album – every track is just delectable. You may particularly enjoy imbibing this happy-go-lucky brew on the way in to work of a Friday morning, easing you gently into that chilled, carefree weekend vibe.

Rating: 5/5

Standout Tracks: ‘Wichita Linesman,’ ‘Same Old Thing,’ ‘Handclapping Song,’ ‘Darling, Darling, Darling,’ ‘Tippi-Toes,’ ‘Ride Your Pony’

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