NRBQ, The New Rhythm and Blues Quartet, and sometimes quintet, was formed during the late 1960s. Their most famous line-up, 1974-1994, included pianist Terry Adams, bassist Joey Spampinato, guitarist Al Anderson, and drummer Tom Ardolina. They became known for their eclectic and unpredictable live concerts. Hey, any band that blows up Cabbage Patch Dolls on stage can’t be all bad. They also hired wrestler, Captain Lou Albano to be their manager for a spell, but that’s a different story for another day.
NRBQ has released close to 40 studio, live, and compilation albums during their long career. Their fusion of jazz, rock, pop, and blues was both creative and always interesting. The long time band members went their own way during the 1990s and despite a couple of reunion concerts during 2007, it was thought that NRBQ was no more.
Adams formed the Terry Adams Rock and Roll Quartet during 2004. Now, after seven years he has decided to change his band’s name back to NRBQ, even though he remains the only former member. Other new members include guitarist Scott Ligon, bassist Pete Donnelly, and drummer Conrad Choucroun.
The band has received good reviews on stage where they initially billed themselves as The New NRBQ. They have maintained the loose and unpredictable stage persona of the old group and have been able to cover many of the band’s classic songs. Their new album, due in July, keeps the legacy of the old band alive.
Keep This Love Goin’ travels in a number of directions, some of which are more successful than others.
It is four Adams compositions, one by Ligon, plus one instrumental cover that come closest to the old NRBQ style and sound. Adams opening composition, “Boozoo and Leona” is a tribute to the zydeco musician Boozoo Chavis and his wife. It has a New Orleans boogie feel with a driving piano and Ligon’s guitar play has an improvisational feel as it explores the melody. “Sweet and Petite” is southern country rockabilly, where the piano and guitar play off of each other. Adams uses Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 In B Minor” as the foundation for his “In Every Dream,” but then turns it into something that would have fit the old Sun label. “Talk” has a simple and sparse beginning that is different from most of the other material. It then picks up steam as it progresses and the band adds some tight harmonies.
Ligon’s, “The Animal Life” quickly falls into an up-beat groove The lyrics may be a little inane but the guitar work is excellent.
The album concludes with an instrumental cover of Piano Red’s, “Red Piano.” In is another foray into the New Orleans boogie and jazz piano scene.
The band is less successful when they move in a Tin Pan Alley direction for their material. Songs such as “Gone With The Wind” and their own “My Life With You” move a little too close to easy listening, plus Adams does not have the voice to pull them off.
Keep This Love Goin’ is the new NRBQ trying to find their studio persona. They have created some very good music that remains true to their past history. It is a good beginning as many of the songs provide a fine listening experience.