"All Hopped Up"

Had you seen NRBQ in concert when this album made its appearance you’d easily understand why the title “All Hopped Up” was chosen. NRBQ was fun, eclectic, out of control, and they relentlessly performed with reckless abandon. There were no rules for what would become their clasic lineup: Terry Adams on keyboards and vocals, Big Al Anderson’s guitar and vocals, Joey Spampinato’s bass and vocals, and their latest addition Tommy Ardolino on drums and occasional vocals. “All Hopped Up” was the bands fourth album, not my favorite recording, but this quartet broke ground as a tireless unit that forever shaped and defined NRBQ’s legacy.

This edition includes the thirteen original tunes, plus four bonus tracks. Opening the album is inarguably NRBQ’s most well-known tunes; Al Anderson’s light and airy and radio friendly “Ridin’ In My Car.” Adams’ oriental sounding “It Feels Good” has a Beatles feel. Adams’ quirky “Call Him Off, Rogers” follows but isn’t nearly as weird as Spaminato’s ill sounding “Doctor’s Wind.” Adams’ “Things to You” is another odd track that veers this recording off into un-chartered territories, Anderson’s “Help Me, Somebody” does little to right this rudderless ship. Spaminato’s “Still in School” is popish but isn’t memorable. Joe Turner’s “Honey Hush” adds the Whole Wheat Horns of brother Don Adams’ trombone, and Keith Spring’s tenor, Big Al Anderson takes center-stage and leads the band for a raucous rendition of this Blues classic. Adams’ “Queen Talk” bounces along well with a myriad of chord changes that mesh. And then there’s “Bonanza” yep from the Cartwright’s TV ranch, except this version sounds like it came from the “Twilight Zone.” The last track on the original “All Hopped Up” was Spaminato’s “That’s Alright” another pop sounding track that leaves little impression.

Bonus tracks: “Chicken Hearted” is a Roy Orbison cover of a obscure Bill Justis tune Roy recorded for Sun Records in 1957, note how Big Al drops a pretty explosive guitar solo here. I really enjoyed Adams’ frisky “Do the Bump” which is a bubbly blast. Spaminato’s “She’s Got to Know” exhibits solid interplay between Anderson’s guitar and especially from Adams’ piano. “Start It Over” by Adams is a clever closing selection that also rocks out well, note Ardolino’s drum pounding, Adams’ piano and Anderson’s kick-ass guitar antics.

NRBQ’s next album 1978’s “At Yankee Stadium” for the then formidable Mercury record label found NRBQ hitting their best stride. But it was “All Hoped Up” that debuted their (nearly twenty year long running and road-tested quartet,) unofficially crowning the band as: America’s Greatest Bar Band.

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