For the all things lauded as being “quintessentially American” – like baseball or tail fins on a ’50s Chevy, they all pale when compared to NRBQ. The proof is here in their first record, the self-titled classic from 1969, and it still holds true today, all those years and line-up changes later.
Formed by keyboardist Terry Adams and his brother, Donn (who adds trombone on 3 tracks here) in 1966, NRBQ was recorded by Eddie Kramer (Hendrix, Stones, et al) at the Record Plant in New York and was released in 1969, and really, you could follow it up with Happy Talk, the band’s 2017 CD, and you’d be hard pressed to tell which decade either one of them came from. Starting off with their take on Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”, the band ranges from classic rock n roll (Bruce Channel’s “Hey! Baby”) to fractured jazz on Carla Bley’s “Ida” and the Sun Ra jewel “Rocket #9”, to the folkie “Liza Jane”, which features Terry on vocals, harmonica and an unnamed dog on barked harmony. All 14 cuts sound loose, fluid and spontaneous, and as Terry says, like a live show, never to be repeated.
Never before on CD, this reissue doesn’t add any new tracks, but really, who needs ’em? This is a near-perfect record as is, from the rev’d-up magic of “Kentucky Slop Song” to the closing “Stay With We”, and shows the band’s broad range, stellar musical acumen, and at the root of it all, their sheer joy of creation. You know, like the best of America.