Thursday, April 29, 2004

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You know what? I love me some NRBQ.

I caught an airing of the Mountain Stage concert show last night on one of our local PBS stations, and it featured the Q along with Loudon Wainwright III (another subject for further research-I've heard his stuff on and off for years but have never been moved to buy, something I intend to remedy some day). For some reason, I was thinking that this was an older show, but a glance at the Mountain Stage website gives its air date as September 2003, so...hey, it looks like they haven't lost a step over the years. I hate to admit it, but it's been a long, long time since I last picked up one of their albums- 1994's strangely uninvolving Message For the Mess Age, which was also Big Al Anderson's last record with the group...and, I think, caused me to mentally write them off as well thereafter. Judging from their show last night, though, they're as quirky and fun as ever, mixing covers of country, show tunes, and R&B with likeable originals, and doing them all with style and class. Bassist Joey Spampinato is cool and smooth, and sings wonderfully; brother Johnny, who replaced Big Al, is a fine addition and bashes his guitar quite nicely, and Terry Adams (native Kentuckian he) is his usual inimitable self, playing the piano in his Chico Marx-meets-Jerry Lee Lewis style; and drummer Tom Ardolino is solid as a rock in his knit hat. I never got to see NRBQ when Big Al was with them, and I've always regretted that...but I think I'll try and keep an eye out to see if they'll be playing nearby (as it seems like they always are), and take care of that once and for all. My son watched a large part of the show with me, but I don't think he was impressed much. Afterwards, I dug out their great 1977 album At Yankee Stadium, sporting one of my favorite album covers (by the way), and gave it a spin. Man, I love their trombone-accented cover of "Shake, Rattle & Roll".

And this concludes my rambling little appreciation of the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet. If you've never heard anything of theirs, please do so immediately. Start with the 2-CD set Peek-A-Boo, and go from there. It probably won't change your life or anything, but you'll have a damn good time for a while.