Back To Where It All Began
"Africa" (L. Nocentelli, G. Porter, A. Neville, J. Modeliste)
The Meters, Reprise, 1974
Took it back
Since I’d promised something else from the Meters before the month was up, I’ve chosen this B-side (forgive me, Red) of their “Hey Pocky A-Way” single, taken from the Rejuvenation album. If you ask me, it’s a double A 45. When these conjure men slip into trance mode and channel the Motherland on “Africa”, I am pulled right in. It’s an untouchable example of their so-tight-it’ll-loose-the-booty ensemble playing. That’s Zig singing “take me back”, while his drums speak in tongues and get him (and us) there in no time. As for the subject of the song, look no farther for the roots of funk, groove-oriented, god-summoning, polyrhythmic music, than the Dark Continent, as we mutated white people once called it in ignorance. It is, after all, the undeniable starting place of humanity and, too, of the atmospheric disturbances that grow to rage against our coasts.
If I had to sum up the triumph and tragedy of New Orleans music this year, certainly the high point, from the HOTG perspective, has to be Meters reuniting for what seemed to be at first a one shot Jazzfest revelatory payday, but blossomed into a series of dates around the country with more possible, a joyous group rebirth to be sure. The tragedy, of course, involves the still unfathomable consequences of the levee and leadership failures post-Katrina that laid waste not just to a city and its people, but to a culture. We may still in mourning; but, when we hear the funeral band let loose on the way back from the graveyard, the ones left behind must start to second line, forget our cares, and hope for the best of whatever is to be. As the Meters discovered earlier this year, music can make you whole again.