"NRBQ 1969 Debut Album: Reissued, revisited & reviewed"
NRBQ wasn’t exclusivelyTerry Adams’ band though he had a lot of input guiding the quintet from its inception. NRBQ’s debut was recorded by Eddie Kramer at New York City’s famous Record Plant at the end of 1968 and was released the following year making it almost a fifty year old album. This inaugural launch featured co-founders Terry Adams (keyboards and vocals) and Joey Spampinato (bass and vocals) with lead singer Frank Gadler, guitarist Steve Ferguson, and drummer Tom Staley. This inception is slightly different from latter day versions of NRBQ, but they broke-out with the same zaniness and eclecticism that still exudes in the current day NRBQ band of 2018.
I couldn’t find any track-times or songwriting credits inside or outside of the packaging so I had to surf the net to verify that Eddie Cochran authored “C’mon Everybody;” the tune NRBQ chose to initiate their career in a rousing/chaotic mode. Throughout NRBQ’s lengthy career Terry Adams occasionally covered and (more often) performed Sun Ra’s compositions, so it’s no surprise that Ra’s “Rocket #9” makes its (quirky) appearance on their debut; it includes an offbeat guitar/trombone driven jam, with Terry’s brother Don Adams’ trombone. It was about ten years later that Terry Adams worked alongside Carla Bley so call Terry insightful for covering Bley’s “Ida,” which is given a wacky/country twang here. Sonny Terry’s and Brownie McGhee’s “C’mon If Your Comin’” makes its first appearance here performed traditionally, but it’s notable to mention that NRBQ reworked this Blues classic into a Blues-Rock romp that became a staple of their live shows, and was the opening song on their 1973 “Workshop” album. Jody St. Nicolas (also known as bassist Joey Spampinato) authored the rocking “You Can’t Hide” which also reappeared on their 1980 “Tiddlywinks” recording.
Steve Ferguson authored the next three songs “I Didn’t Know Myself,” “Stomp,” and “Fergie’s Prayer;” Ferguson was soon replaced by Al Anderson. Terry Adams is on-fire on his kicking “Mama Get Down Those Rock and Roll Shoes” that also includes a hot-scotching guitar solo from Ferguson. Bruce Channel’s huge hit “Hey Baby” gets a makeover that’s twangy and fun, with most of the fine twang coming from Ferguson’s guitar, along with Terry Adams’ harmonica impersonation of Delbert McClinton’s harp playing that was featured on the original “Hey Baby” from 1961. I could have done without the barking dog on the traditional “Liza Jane.” Terry Adams’ “Stay with Me” closes NRBQ’s auspicious debut with tasteful jazz piano soloing from its author and dash of zaniness thrown in for their (till this day) emblematic kookiness.
I’m not certain, but suspect that little did (NRBQ & Adams) know that they’d be around for nearly a half-century after its inception. Albeit with different musicians - except for co-creator Terry Adams. Future NRBQ albums offered (expected) development. Yet it’s interesting to investigate these beginnings as a glimpse of what was enhanced hereafter.
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