For practitioners of funk music, The Meters are rightfully considered music royalty. Formed in 1965, the five-man group’s blend of New Orleans second line rhythms with funky guitar and keyboard melodies made them just as important to the popularization of funk music in the 70s as James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone. From the abundance of breaks in their catalogue, producer Rich Harrison found a gem that would become the signature hit of Amerie’s career.
The original is “Oh, Calcutta!,” an instrumental piece off the Meter’s classic sophomore LP Look-Ka Py Py. The standout break comes less than two minutes in after Art Neville’s keyboard work; drummer Ziggy Modeliste does a funky breakdown with Leo Nocentelli adding in well-timed guitar stabs.
THE METERS “OH, CALCUTTA!” (SAMPLE STARTS AT 1:41 MARK)
Harrison would add congo drums and ride cymbals to further enhance the sound with go-go elements. Unfortunately, label Columbia did not see the vision. The track was sent back for multiple rewrites over a six-month span, prompting a frustrated Harrison and Amerie to leak the song to radio outlets and force the label’s hand. The move saved Jennifer Lopez from stealing the song and caused an instant sensation. “1 Thing” would stay on the charts for 20 weeks, maxing out at #8 on Billboard’s Top 100. The gold-certified track would be included on the soundtrack to Will Smith’s movie Hitch and get nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
“1 Thing” is proof positive that powerful grooves are timeless.