When Tuff City began releasing these Funky Funky New Orleans compilations in the late ’90s, every track was a revelation. Any funk enthusiasts who only knew the Meters and Eddie Bo could learn there was a whole lot more where that came from, each track grittier and more whacked-out than the last one. By the time the label got to Volume 5, it was using acetates credited to “Unknown Artist,” and even those tracks were killer.
After a twelve-year break, the series is back—sort of. Volume 6 is a vinyl-only release, clocking in at a scant half-hour, and instead of newly unearthed tracks, we get mostly songs that have been compiled before. There’s one real find, though: “(What’s His Name) Black Samson” is the theme song from a little-known 1974 Blaxploitation movie, which was scored by Allen Toussaint and featured the Meters throughout, with future short-time Meters member Willie West singing the theme. It makes you wish for a reissue of the complete soundtrack (if you’re really curious, the whole movie’s on YouTube). Elsewhere there’s more Meters history with George Porter Jr’s late ’70s band Joy Ride—which veers into more expansive P-Funk territory—and the equally short-lived Sam & the Soul Machine, with Zigaboo Modeliste on drums. Eddie Bo’s “Stink Bomb” comes from the ’80s, when he was trying his luck with relatively straight-ahead jazz funk. My favorite track here is probably the least rare one: Robert Parker’s “The Hiccup” was a later and far quirkier attempt to come up with a dance-craze song in the “Barefootin’” vein.
It’s mostly first-class stuff, but aside from the Willie West track, confirmed funkateers will already own most of it. After all these years, there are only so many fresh muthas left in the motherlode.