Looking over the list of nominees for induction in this year’s class for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I see New Orleans funk masters the Meters tabbed for enshrinement. A very good and refreshingly non-mainstream choice.
The Meters aren’t known by the casual music fans, but their music is — as a rhythm section with other artists. They have been the backing band for Dr. John, Robert Palmer (no, the other one), Paul McCartney, LaBelle and Allen Toussaint.
They played on late ’60’s and early ’70’s hits for Chris Kenner, Earl King and Lee Dorsey.
Their albums, which they began releasing in 1969, are mostly instrumental renderings of New Orleans
bayou funk that were
later sampled by hip-hop artists.
I can think of another rhythm section that deserves the tribute of induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one that has played on far more hits than the Meters.
The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a.k.a. the Swampers, are overdue the attention that lesser artists have received from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
These guys — Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Roger Hawkins and the late Barry Beckett — have played on hits from the mid-1960s well into the late 1980s.
There are too many to count, but anyone who has paid the slightest attention to pop music knows some of them.
For example, there’s (give or take a member of the section) Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman,” Wilson Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude,” Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like A Rock,” and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”
And I would include Albert “Junior” Lowe as part of the earlier rhythm section, though he was never officially identified as a Swamper.
Lowe played bass and guitar on many of the signature soul hits cut at FAME Recording Studios and elsewhere in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Lowe has become the forgotten man in the Muscle Shoals story. He deserves better.
Spooner Oldham, another player associated with the heyday at FAME and the rhythm section, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 in the sideman category.
The sideman category isn’t featured often enough for nominees.
Sidemen (and women), after all, are responsible for the many of the songs we love.
Though the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section never cut a record under that name, they certainly cut hundreds of hits and classics.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.