George Porter, Jr.

Funk 'n' Go Nuts

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Runnin' Pardners was the ex-Meters bassman's solo group before the jam band explosion revived interest in the sinuous funk grooves of his old group and Porter put the Pardners on the back burner. Funk 'n' Go Nuts is a conscious attempt to carefully craft a professional studio album, but the songs are four and a half to six minutes long. That only lands them in an uncomfortable nether zone where there's not really enough time to stretch out and play but the songs just aren't strong enough on their own. "Is Pray" tries for brawny funk and spiritually uplifting lyrics but it's pretty nondescript, while "Let's Get It" attempts to update late Meters but delivers social conscience/better-world lyrics that fall flat ("Trying to take you to a place/Where no one will hurt your space," ouch). The ballad "How Long" is no prize, either. While "J Black Attack!" (an homage to New Orleans drummer James Black, perhaps?) gets a good undertow groove going, it's too reined in to strike many sparks. "High Above" offers more life philosophy lessons but the groove is too static, and "I Got the Blues" (there's danger with a title like that) gets kind of a Little Feat flavor going with Brint Anderson channeling Lowell George's slide guitar but it's still fairly undistinguished. The only place the music works is when Porter and company get it back to the Meters base, referencing the funkmasters' late-'60s sound on "By Athenish," "Up Late at Night," and "Yes Thou Art Correct," a gospelized, kicked-back take on "Yeah You're Right." The best of the bunch is "What's It For," which blends in some elements from the Rejuvenation era via a tandem guitar-bass riff that digs in deep, a strong chop-funk groove from David Russell Batiste, and tolerable fair keyboards on top. Much care and preparation obviously went into Funk 'n' Go Nuts (probably too much), but the 70 minutes of music simply don't make much impact. George Porter's obvious forte is inventing those sinewy bass riffs far more than writing full-fledged songs. Despite some attractive elements here and there, this self-conscious attempt at a "studio" album comes up short even for staunch Meters fans.