Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Outside Lands Brain-Burner: Fire on the Bayou by the Meters

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 11:56 AM


Listen to this while high: Fire on the Bayou, by the Original Meters.

Behind the buzz: Buried

w-a-a-ay deep on the bill at this weekend's Outside Lands Music and Arts

Festival are The Original Meters, the slickest karass of funketeers ever to

lurch out of New Orleans. Groomed for superstardom, they broke up late in the

decade, but their superb back catalog went on to conquer the funky world

anyway. In their day, these masters of regional funk opened two tours for The

Rolling Stones, recorded with Paul McCartney, and appeared twice on Saturday Night Live back when that

wheezefest counted for something. A major cult inevitably fastened onto their

albums and won champions like LL Cool J, Queen Latifa, the Red Hot Chili

Peppers, Widespread Panic, and the Grateful Dead. 1975's Fire on the Bayou, a broad-gauged concept album about their home

state, is likely the pick of a stellar discography. This lineup includes four

of the five original members and plays to a sold-out crowd at the Independent

tonight before their festival appearance tomorrow.


Today's dope: A

surpassingly brutal strain called Purple Dragon.

Carried away on Vieux


Drop the needle (or press Play) and let the first cataract of indica smoke deepen

your understanding while "Out in the Country" digs a warm chunky groove in the

ears. "Fire on the Bayou" invites us into the Crescent City to bust a bottle of

wine down our necks and huff a bit of gage as the long instrumental breaks

sustain a mood of jolly lazy menace that must've had endeared them to Mick 'n

Keef 'n Bill 'n Charlie. "Love Slip Upon Ya" lays the snaky, sexy voodoo down

before "Talkin' 'Bout New Orleans" gives a foretaste of Fat Tuesday. Then,

"They All Ask'd for You" ...

... takes us into full-tilt Mardi Gras mode. The

last-named is one of The Meters' best (and best-known) joints: a jaw-dropping

series of cheerily hilarious insults from your friends in the animal world

that's still the best free advertising ever handed the city's Audubon Zoo. "Can

You Do Without?" settles us back into groove and contemplation, with the

taunting lyrics daring hardasses to imagine life without the rest of us. Their

cover of Russ Ballard's "Liar" cuts even the Three Dog Night version and the

edginess and betrayal that limns "You're a Friend of Mine" intensifies the

shifty mood. "Middle of the Road" is another one of those long, meandering,

hook-festooned instrumentals that shows off the true Metrical métier. "Running

Fast" is a brief cinematic dash down Funk Street and "Mardi Gras Mambo" cakewalks

us out in merry style, reminding us where the blues was born and how it takes a

cool cat to blow a horn. Indeed.

Psychoactive verdict: Awesome, dawg.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Ron Garmon @RockyRedGlare, and like us at

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Ron Garmon


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"