The “Listen Again” series was popular enough that your favorite record reviewer has decided to follow the lead of some TV execs and do a spin-off. In this series we once more examine previously-released albums BUT the platters we’ll peruse in this particular series will be (Rolling Stone magazine) five-star albums. This time we look at The Meters’ Rejuvenation.
But first, for those not up on their music history, some back ground information. The Meters are a New Orleans-based funk group formed in 1965. They were recorded and performed their original music until their break-up in 1977 (and have since briefly reunited several times). They have worked with such artists as Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer and The Rolling Stones.
The roster included frontman Art Neville (lead vocals and keyboards), Leo Nocentelli (guitar). George Porter Jr. (bass), Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste (drums) and Cyril Neville (percussion and vocals). Art Neville, Nocentilli, Porter and Modeliste shared songwriting duties. Rejuvenation was their fifth studio album. The 9-track release opened on the popular piece “People Say” which would be released as a single. (Today Chris Duarte covers this song live.)
The second selection is “Love Is for Me”. Songs such as this demonstrate that the band is musically moving beyond their original bare bones funk that relied heavily on syncopated accents and clipped rhythms.
The next number is “Just Kissed My Baby”. This one is highlighted by Lowell George (Little Feat) on slide guitar. George was uncredited. (The tune would later be sampled Public Enemy, covered by Chris Duarte and Vdelli and used in the video game Grand Theft Auto 4.)
It’s followed by “What’cha Say”. Here the band’s signature sound is further defined by their earthy blend of New Orleans “second line” rhythms, tight, melodic grooves and high-powered keyboard and guitar riffs.
The fan favorite “Jungle Man” is also here as is the second “single” song “Hey Pocky A-Way”. “It Ain’t No Use” follows. This is an effective albeit lengthy cut with a running time of almost 12 minutes.
Also included here are “Loving You Is on My Mind” and the closing cut the interesting and influential “Africa”. (This one would later be covered and adapted by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)
With a running time of almost 51 minutes, Rejuvenation was released on the Reprise label in July of 1974. The music here illustrates their expanded approach to their trademark tracks often including conga drums, acoustic piano and often uncredited horns. This was at least one of the major factors behind the platter’s praised critical success.
Despite their only rare moments of mainstream success, their music made them much like James Brown, progenitors of the funk music genre. Their music was influential both at the time and today. Regardless of Rolling Stone contributor Jon Pareles downgrading the disc to four and a half stars, the work refused to surrender its significance.
In 2001 it would be digitally remastered with two added bonus tracks—the single version of “People Say” and “Hey Pocky A-Way”. Two years later (2003) the project was honored again by being ranked number 138 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It somehow manages to both foreshadow the later 1970s funk innovations of Sly Stone while still remaining true to their New Orleans origins. The Meters’ Rejuvenation/Rep. 2200 suggested possibilities that their later work never surpassed and is a critical, musical masterpiece.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.