NRBQ & the Whole Wheat Horns
"Derbytown" DVD
MVD Visual By Bob Putignano

Rock & Roll icons NRBQ (New Rhythm & Blues Quartet) is in very fine fettle on this 1982 concert video, which was taped in Terry & Don Adams hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. This offering provides a unique opportunity to experience visually and musically NRBQ & the Whole Wheat Horns- at near its all time musical height and hay-daze.

For those not familiar with NRBQ, they were founded in the late sixties and their music styles cover a multitude of musical genres; rock, jazz, country, rockabilly and blues are all part of their makeup, and then some, as there's even a cool Latin beat with their infectious "Mambo Jambo," included on this very hip DVD. No matter- any genre they decide to perform, NRBQ spices their music with the up-most fun, with an up-tempo beat that makes their audience smile, as well as themselves, these guys are definitely characters, but their entire concept is thoroughly competent, even though at times it looks like they are having so much fun that the music can't be as good as it is. For example; observing Terry Adams hammer away on the keyboards is like watching a kooky cartoon character but listen closely, as Adams seamlessly culls from the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis to Thelonious Monk without blinking an eye. The entire band really meld's, if you are not moved by their music- check your pulse! Joey Spampinato has always been one of my favorite bass players, Joey possesses a big fat round sound and can swing with the best of them. Tommy Ardolino is the perfect drummer for the 'Q' and pounds away mightily. Al Anderson's guitar is all about high-energy, and his vocals and songwriting are sorely missed in the current edition of NRBQ, as are the Whole Wheat Horns who have not toured with NRBQ for quite some time, so it's great to see them al together here on this very fun DVD.

NRBQ is at full-throttle almost throughout (and they are on very high power- in more ways than one) .Highlights include the supercharged "12-Bar Blues," and "Green Lights." Check out the instrumental of "New Lang Syne," too. Other classic NBRQ chestnut tracks performed to near perfection include the Spaminato penned/Beatles'ish "I Love Her, She Loves Me," and Adams' "That's Neat, That's Nice." The encore is a classic NRBQ hoot, as they round out their set with the appropriate yet comical "Hit the Hay." The bonus material is just okay, and strictly for 'Q' fans only, but their take on Terry's "Me & The Boys" (covered by old NRBQ friend Bonnie Raitt with NRBQ backing Bonnie on her '82 "Green Light" recording, which also featured Terry Aams "Green Lights," performed here,) is interesting as it was taken from a 1981 TV appearance.

I have seen NRBQ at least one hundred times over the last thirty plus years, and my favorite incarnation of the band is the one captured here on this DVD, so watching this disk brought back a lot of fond & fun memories for me. NRBQ is an American treasure, buy this DVD, and sit back and enjoy their zaniness, but also zone in on their out their songwriting, vocals, and their musical abilities, and dig their groove.

Bob Putignano

Bob Putignano
Radio Host WFDU's "Sounds of Blue"
President of the NY Blues and Jazz Society