Song of the Day: The Meters (Art Neville, 1937-2019) “It Ain’t No Use”
Today we remember The Meters and The Neville Brothers keyboardist, Art Neville, who sadly passed away yesterday at the age of 81. The Meters distinguished themselves as the pre-eminent New Orleans funk band. When they burst onto the scene in 1965, they were pioneers of the percussion and bass heavy trend in R&B that would become funk music. They put their own distinctly New Orleans spin on everything, becoming one of the key groups of the ’60s and ’70s New Orleans soul/funk/R&B scene and their records serving as ambassadors for the New Orleans sound to the rest of the world.
At the center of The Meters sound was Neville‘s piano and keyboards. He was one of those pianists who was always able to do more with less, keeping his playing nice and simple and working to build the band’s sound, occasionally cutting loose with some extended solos and riffing that helped bring the band’s sound up to the next level. He was the type of player who would quietly go about his work, insuring that the groove was kept sacred, and then delivering blazing keyboard pyrotechnics when called upon to deliver. The quintessential team player in a band that always felt like more of a collective enterprise than a a showcase for individual talents.
Working alongside Zigaboo Modeliste (drums), George Porter Jr. (bass), Leo Nocentelli (guitar) and occasionally his brother, Cyril Neville (percussion and vocals) in the band’s original line-up, Art Neville was an integral part to a dynamic and deeply funky whole.
“It Ain’t No Use” is from The Meters‘ 1974 LP, Rejuvenation and features one of the Neville‘s very best piano solos, even if he remains tastefully tucked into the background, helping to support the rhythm section, throughout most of the track’s run-time.