Despite the exodus of the great New Orleans session players to L.A. in the Sixties, the city's musical traditions haven't died out. Currently, the big thing in the Crescent City is Allen Toussaint and the Meters, who produce and play on other people's albums. But I would be hard pressed to advance the Toussaint/Meters legend on the basis of their own albums. Toussaint isn't much of a performer and the Meters haven't done anything memorable since Cabbage Alley or put out a wholly good LP since their days on Josie.
Fire on the Bayou, produced with Toussaint, is a flop. Perfunctory funk churns aimlessly throughout. Except for stiff cross-rhythms that add a little spice here and there, the band sounds like any number of warmup acts on the soul circuit. The only song that stands out after repeated listenings is "They All Ask'd about You," an engagingly trivial nonsense song.
The Meters seem to be a super-professional studio band (King Biscuit Boy, Robert Palmer), but if it's genuine New Orleans folklore and polyrhythms you're after, get their Best Of album on Island or the sadly neglected Wild Magnolias record on Polydor. (RS 197)
(Posted: Oct 9, 1975)
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