The Killer Meters Breakin' Out Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Acid funk with nods to Prince, Donna Summer and Funkadelic.

Martin Longley 2009

Is the Acid Jazz revival here already? Well, if not, perhaps we can get into Acid Funk.

London's The Killer Meters debuted in 2005 with an evocation of a nearly-namesake group that could be deemed the ultimate house band of New Orleans itself. A Tribute to The Meters featured singer Karime Kendra on several cuts, these being so well received that she's now a fully inducted Killer Meter, strongly starring on most of this belated second album's tracks. The band was formed by drummer Virgil Howe, and their line-up now features a full complement of bass, guitar, saxophone and keyboards, the latter in particular filling out their sound with a dazzling array of vintage warbles, parps and chunders.

Kendra is the daughter of Los Angeles soul singer Ty Karim, but her chosen style is hard funk, skilfully negotiating the buffeting barrage set up by her bandmates. Virgil is the son of guitarist Steve Howe, but The Killer Meters are about as far away as it's possible to get from the prog prancing of Yes. The band's true antecedents are Funkadelic and Sly Stone, mingled with elements from the later fusions of Prince, Lenny Kravitz and Living Colour.

The first half of the album is the strongest, although its sometimes skinny production value requires the listener to imagine the greater glory of The Killer Meters’ onstage force. Nevertheless, there are still outbreaks of smouldering fumes, particularly when Kendra's vocals are deliberately distorted for maximum crunch. All of the other required parts are in place, from bubbly bass slaps to curt clavinet clipping, sharp horn-jabbing to deranged guitar soloing.

Freak is a rocky stomp, and Dance Move Shake! maintains the strutting, even if it does sound very similar. Five tracks in and there's the first pause for reflection, with the swirling instrumental of Tropical, complete with touches of Steve Cropper-ed guitar. Desperate Times brings back the racing funk push, I Ain't Lying is a cover of mother Karime's old single, and Rainbow Of Love closes out with a nod to the disco bumping of Donna Summer.

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