by Steve Pick
Photos by Jim Varvaris
The Third in the Euclid Sessions Series
These are things I should have known, but unlike fanatics like Euclid Joe, or a significant percentage of the big crowd that showed up for our instore, I haven't seen NRBQ more than a handful of times, and I don't even own more than half a dozen of their records. I dig their crazy-quilt melange of rockabilly, power pop, jazz (both avant-garde and jump swing), and r'n'b, but I've never found it so overwhelming that I'll drop everything to get another fix.
It turns out that while Al Anderson was, indeed, a first-rate songwriter, and that Joey Spaminato and Tom Ardolino were a cracker-jack rhythm section, Terry Adams was the shaper of NRBQ's sound. Because, now that he's grabbed some younger and hungrier road warriors to form the Rock & Roll Quartet, I find it absolutely impossible to discern the difference from the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet which preceeded it. Apparently, Adams himself is the guy who demands those spacey rhythms, those backbeat-slapping drums, that jumping bass line, that T-Bone Walker-on-acid guitar.
I didn't get to see his longer shows either at the house concert the night before, or the Off Broadway gig the night of our instore. But, I had a blast watching Adams and crew on our stage. He is clearly willing to push the band in any random direction his mind conjures up at any given moment, and the addition of the Whole Wheat Horns made for a half hour or so of twisted takes on a lot of American music. Sometimes, it sounded as though the band wasn't sure where he was going, but then he'd snap them back in place with a quick melodic run or a pounded chord sequence, and the groove was paramount once again.
I'm listening now, five days later, to the stunning live recording from which the 7 inch single will be taken. Our recording team has outdone itself this time, coming up with something clearer than I heard in the room, yet with all the energy of that joyous good time everybody had last Sunday. Really, when we get this record out, you're gonna want a copy for yourself.