George Porter Jr., Russell Batiste and Brian Stoltz are serious pioneers of the funk. These New Orleans vets have played together in The Funky Meters, and most recently moved on to continue their quest as a trio known as PBS.
PBS’ most recent release, MOODOO, finds the three icons of funk joined by a jam stalwart and heavyweight funkster, Page McConnell. The album is a live recording from a trip up north to Burlington, Vermont’s Club Metronome. Action jumps off with a rambling, nine-minute “Ausnacious” that gets the temperature soaring. It’s easy to see early on that the evening was magical and that its documentation was a great decision. “Comin at Ya” finds Batiste sitting in the cut with a snappy cymbal and slamming backbeat that is matched by Porter’s heavy bass line. They always seem to create such seamless pockets of groove, and Brian Stoltz has no problem soaring over top of it with smoking guitar leads.
After the first few songs as a trio, McConnell joins in on Porter Jr.’s “I Get High” and remains for the majority of the recording. Quite possibly the most rambunctious number on the album is Batiste’s “All We Wanna Do” which finds ass-kicking harmonies and a groove cresting the mass energy of the show. They kill the tempo and slow the song about three minutes in before allowing McConnell a chance to frolic around on the piano.
Another highlight is the funk-filled cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Check out Your Mind” and a medley of Funky Meters/ Sly Stone/ Bob Dylan with “Funky Miracle”>”Sing A Simple Song”>”Rainy Day Woman.” This is a great recording that delivers a representation of what the energy that night, a goal that many live recordings seem to miss. MOODOO is certainly worthy of purchase, but really only serves to antagonize you to go see a PBS show.
MOODOO is out now on Highsteppin’ Productions.