Wednesday, April 7, 2021

NRBQ - High Noon A 50 Year Retrospective (1966-2016 us, career-spanning 5 disc boxed set, produced and compiled to celebrate 50 years, 2016 remaster)

Once you’ve steeped yourself in the music and sensibility of NRBQ, it makes total sense that a sprawling career retrospective should start in the future, even as it recaps the band’s history. Track one of Disc One of High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective is from a forthcoming album and time travels through the cosmos to a utopia fashioned in words and music by the late Sun Ra. “Love in Outer Space” is a perfect opener for this five-CD box set: it kaleidoscopes through many of NRBQ’s signature sounds; it’s goofy, sweet, and entirely sui generis; it’s played in a characteristically loose but tight style by the latest lineup, which boasts only one—but the essential—founding member, keyboardist/singer Terry Adams; and it builds upon Adams’ answer to a question posed in 1969 about his musical inspirations, “The Sun: Sun Records and Sun Ra.”

The influence of jazz’s legendarily whimsical master of the “interstellar low ways” is evident in the new anthology, both in the presence of “Rocket Number 9,” a tune Ra gave to Adams early on, and in NRBQ’s playful tendency to sidestep from swinging, shuffling, and four-on-the-floor rhythmic precision into brief, shambling breakdowns of improvised chaos. Other jazz influences crop up in the set as well: interpretations of Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall,” Andy Razaf and Paul Denniker’s “S’posin’,” Moondog’s “Paris,” and Thelonious Monk’s “Ruby, My Dear.”

Equally paramount is the impact of that other Sun, the studio and label that Sam Phillips established in the early 1950s, from which erupted the blues, R&B, rockabilly, and rock ’n’ roll of B.B. King, Junior Parker, Jackie Brenston, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and others. The Q’s rendition of Cash’s “Get Rhythm” is here on Disc Three, which also includes Stuart Hamblen’s “This Old House” and a live version of Big Joe Turner’s “Honey Hush.” The relatively few covers among High Noon’s 106 tracks (notable highlights include Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody,” Jimmie Lloyd’s “Rocket in My Pocket,” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Getting to Know You”) are wonderful, but they also underscore the way Adams and his songwriting band mates through the years (Steve Ferguson, Joey Spampinato, Al Anderson, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough) seamlessly integrated the foundational influences and idioms into their own classically structured, catchy, and ultimately timeless tunes.

The timeless factor, owing in part to Adams’ perpetual youthfulness and unselfconscious wackiness, is embodied in such songs as “Green Lights,” “Ridin’ in My Car,” “RC Cola and a Moon Pie,” “Me and the Boys,” “Rain at the Drive-In,” “I Want You Bad,” “Little Floater,” and “If I Don’t Have You.” It accounts for the consistent Q identity across five decades of music making with a shifting lineup, and it made it possible to organize these five CDs, packaged in a simple, cardboard fold-out folio with a straightforward booklet of photos and notes, in the loosest of narrative structures. The first disc, Everybody Say Yeah! (2005–2016), contains the most recent material, and the subsequent discs roughly encapsulate eras in the band’s history: Ain’t It All Right (1966–1970), Do You Feel It? (1971–1978), Me and the Boys (1977–1990), and Puddin’ Truck (1989–2004). Some fans, with good reason, favor the Al Anderson period (with Spampinato on bass and Tom Ardolino on drums) that spans Discs Two and Three, and features Big Al’s terse, blazing, idiosyncratic guitar solos, memorable compositions, and sweet, reedy vocals. Others, loyalists from the start, hold unshakable affection for the earlier times with guitarist Ferguson, when a rehearsal band from Kentucky developed spontaneously into the New Rhythm and Blues Quintet and eventually migrated to the Northeast, often adding the Whole Wheat Horns (anchored by Terry Adams’ trombone-playing brother Donn). And a strong case can be made for the bands of the past 27 years, when all the experience of previous decades coalesced beautifully and the recorded sound improved dramatically.

Then, now, and at every point in between, NRBQ has simply been a great rock ’n’ roll band—singing about girls, cars, and parties; privileging charm, innocence, and madcap humor over rebellion and darkness; and negotiating sometimes silly or saccharine pop sentiments, thundering backbeats, wild solos (piano, clavinet, guitar, sax), and Spike Jones-like accents with equal aplomb. Other bands with overlapping values and sounds have had more success and celebrity, but for 50 years, Adams and his crews have endured and endeared with peerless persistence, subsuming and transcending subgenres (from jump blues and rockabilly to pub rock and power pop), all for the love and joy of music.
by Derk Richardson, Mar 15th, 2017
Disc 1 Everybody Say Yeah! 2005-2016
1. Love in Outer Space (Sun Ra) - 3:43
2. Never Cop Out (Terry Adams) - 4:22
3. Waitin' on My Sweetie Pie (Scott Ligon) - 2:54
4. Ruby, My Dear (Thelonious Monk) - 3:59
5. I'd Like to Know (Jim Hoke) - 2:05
6. Boozoo and Leona (Terry Adams) - 5:25
7. I'm Alone (Terry Adams) - 3:02
8. Can't Wait to Kiss You (Casey McDonough) - 1:48
9. Everybody Say Yeah! (Terry Adams) - 2:12
10.In Every Dream (Terry Adams) - 2:33
11.Here I Am (Terry Adams, Scott Ligon) - 2:31
12.The Animal Life (Scott Ligon) - 4:39
13.Getting to Know You (Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers) - 2:04
14.Talk (Terry Adams) - 2:20
15.Snowfall (Claude Thornhill) - 4:45
16.Keep This Love Goin' (Terry Adams, Pete Donnelly, Scott Ligon) - 3:44
17.Fightin' Back (Casey McDonough) - 3:31
18.Let Go (Terry Adams, Pete Donnelly) - 4:15
19.Dutchess County Jail (Traditional) - 2:41
Tracks 2, 6, 15, 18 Live Recordings
Disc 2 Ain't It All Right 1966-1970
1. Ain't It All Right (Terry Adams, Steve Ferguson) - 2:22
2. Rocket Number 9 (Sun Ra) - 2:08
3. Tina (Joey Spampinato) - 1:22
4. I Say Gooday Goodnite (Steve Ferguson) - 1:29
5. Down in My Heart (Traditional) - 2:33
6. Have You Heard (Terry Adams) - 1:42
7. Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard (Terry Adams) - 1:38
8. Get on the Right Track Baby (Ray Charles, Joe Turner) - 2:21
9. You Move So Fast (Terry Adams) - 1:21
10.Flat Foot Flewzy (Steve Ferguson) - 4:43
11.You Got Me Goin' (James Dale Spence) - 2:33
12.On the Farm (Terry Adams) - 2:32
13.You Can't Hide (Joey Spampinato) - 1:53
14.Step Aside (Steve Ferguson) - 1:22
15.Benellie (Steve Ferguson) - 1:27
16.I Feel Good (John Lee Hooker) - 2:43
17.Fergie's Prayer (Steve Ferguson) - 2:37
18.C'mon Everybody (Jerry Capehart, Eddie Cochran) - 3:06
19.Stomp (Steve Ferguson) - 1:58
20.Stay with We (Terry Adams) - 3:50
21.Heartbreaker (Ahmet Nugetre) - 4:24
22.The Waiting Song (Steve Ferguson) - 2:32
23.We Are Brothers (Traditional) - 1:03
Tracks 8, 9, 14, 16, 13 Live Recordings
Disc 3 Do You Feel It 1971-78
1. That's Neat, That's Nice (Terry Adams) - 3:11
2. Green Lights (Terry Adams, Joey Spampinato) - 3:00
3. Help Me Somebody (Al Anderson) - 3:52
4. Only You (Joey Spampinato) - 2:46
5. This Old House (Stuart Hamblen) - 2:51
6. Ridin' in My Car (Al Anderson) - 2:53
7. Things to You (Terry Adams) - 3:27
8. Do You Feel It? (Terry Adams) - 2:49
9. Howard Johnson's Got His Ho-Jo Workin' (Terry Adams) - 3:21
10.Electric Train (Terry Adams) - 1:07
11.Magnet (Terry Adams, Joey Spampinato) - 3:31
12.Honey Hush (Joe Turner) - 3:05
13.Get That Gasoline Blues (Terry Adams, Charlie Craig) - 2:55
14.It's Not Too Late (Terry Adams) - 3:39
15.It Feels Good (Terry Adams) - 2:35
16.Still in School (Joey Spampinato) - 2:26
17.Be My Woman Tonight (Al Anderson) - 2:39
18.RC Cola and a Moon Pie (Terry Adams) - 3:37
19.Get Rhythm (Johnny Cash) - 3:00
20.You and I and George (Red Kelly) - 2:04
21.It's Not So Hard (Joey Spampinato) - 2:45
Tracks 12, 20 Live Recordings
Tracks 13, 18 single Versions
Disc 4 Me And The Boys 1977-1990
1. Captain Lou (Terry Adams, Al Anderson) - 2:31
2. Me and the Boys (Terry Adams) - 3:30
3. Talk to Me (Terry Adams) - 2:42
4. I Love Her, She Loves Me (Joey Spampinato) - 2:31
5. Smackaroo (Instrumental) (Terry Adams) - 2:04
6. This Love Is True (Terry Adams, Jake Jacobs, Joey Spampinato) - 2:46
7. Feel You Around Me (Al Anderson) - 3:31
8. Crazy Like a Fox (Al Anderson) - 4:01
9. Rain at the Drive-In (Terry Adams) - 3:11
10.S'posin' (Paul Denniker, Andy Razaf) - 4:09
11.Wacky Tobacky (Terry Adams, Keith Spring) - 2:44
12.The One and Only (Terry Adams, Joey Spampinato) - 3:43
13.How Can I Make You Love Me (Joey Spampinato) - 2:52
14.I Got a Rocket in My Pocket (Jimmie Logsdon, Vic McAlpin) - 4:34
15.Boy's Life (Al Anderson) - 2:57
16.Never Take the Place of You (Al Anderson) - 3:24
17.Want You to Feel Good Too (Terry Adams) - 3:39
18.I Want You Bad (Terry Adams, Phil Crandon) - 2:33
19.She Got the House (Terry Adams, The Wailer) - 5:04
20.12 Bar Blues (Jack Butwell) - 2:49
21.My Girlfriend's Pretty (Terry Adams) - 2:46
22.Christmas Wish (Joey Spampinato) - 2:51
Tracks 8, 10, 14, 19 Live Recordings
Disc 5 Puddin' Truck 1989-2004
1. Little Floater (Terry Adams) - 3:08
2. Sail on Sail On (Joey Spampinato) - 3:11
3. Next Stop Brattleboro (Terry Adams) - 2:44
4. What You Mean to Me (Terry Adams, Joey Spampinato) - 3:17
5. If I Don't Have You (Stephanie Davis, Joey Spampinato) - 2:12
6. One Big Parking Lot (Terry Adams) - 3:54
7. Love Came to Me (Joey Spampinato) - 3:07
8. Dummy (Terry Adams, Joey Spampinato) - 3:11
9. Terry Got a Muffin (Terry Adams) - 2:17
10.It's St. Patrick's Day (Joey Spampinato) - 2:37
11.21-50 to Headquarters (Terry Adams) - 1:27
12.Do the Primal Thing (Terry Adams) - 2:10
13.Goodbye (Joey Spampinato) - 3:09
14.Puddin' Truck (Terry Adams) - 3:16
15.Ain't No Horse (Terry Adams) - 3:49
16.Blame It on the World (Joey Spampinato) - 3:04
17.Imaginary Radio (Terry Adams) - 2:39
18.Always Safety First (Joey Spampinato) - 2:50
19.Advice for Teenagers (Terry Adams, Joey Spampinato) - 3:08
20.Paris (Louis Hardin) - 3:15
21.See You Soon (Terry Adams) - 1:57
Track 20  Live Recording

*Terry Adams - Clavinet, Harmonica, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Piano, Trumpet, Vocals
*Scott Ligon - Guitar, Organ, Vocals
*Casey McDonough - Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*John Perrin - Drums
*Pete Donnelly - Bass, Vocals
*Conrad Choucroun - Drums
*Bobby Lloyd Hicks - Drums
*Steve Ferguson - Guitar, Vocals
*Frank Gadler - Cowbell, Percussion, Vocals
*Tom Staley - Drums, Vocals
*Ken Sheehan - Rhythm Guitar
*Al Anderson - Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Ardolino - Drums, Vocals
*Johnny Spampinato - Guitar, Vocals
*Klem Klimek - Harmonica
*Jim Hoke - Flute, Harmonica, Alto, Tenor Saxophones
*Pete Toigo - Bass
*Quentin Sharpenstein - Bass
*Danny Thompson - Flute
*P.J. O'Connell - Vocals
*Norm DeMoura - Vocals
*Donn Adams - Trombone, Vocals
*Lou Albano - Vocals
*King Curtis - Tenor Saxophone
*Charlie Craig - Drums
*Brian Darby - Drums
*Lee Tiger - Guitar
*Keith Spring - Bells, Tenor Saxophone
*Roswell Rudd - Trombone
*Kami Lyle - Trumpet
*John Sebastian - Autoharp
*T-Bone Wolk - Accordion, Banjo