Thursday, May 10, 2012

Friday at SPACE: the new NRBQ doesn't miss a beat

Posted By on 05.10.12 at 03:57 PM

NRBQ
  • NRBQ
Last summer NRBQ released the excellent Keep This Love Goin' (Clang!), its first album in seven years, but singer and keyboardist Terry Adams was the only remaining original member. Prior to the release he was touring with a band he called the Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet, with drummer Conrad Choucroun, bassist Pete Donnelly, and local multi-instrumentalist Scott Ligon playing guitar (Ligon also turns up on the killer new album by Kelly Hogan). Last year Adams renamed this quartet NRBQ, and the four of them wear the NRBQ mantle beautifully on Keep This Love Goin'. They headline SPACE on Friday night.

Keep This Love Goin' is entirely new material, but the group's brand-new live album, We Travel the Spaceways (Clang!), includes gems from the vast NRBQ songbook, in renditions that dispel any doubt about the new lineup's worthiness. The band juggles all kinds of styles and aesthetics, much like the original version. A raucous cover of the Sun Ra classic that gives the album its name, which you can hear below, features guest saxophonist Klem Klimek taking it way out. There's also a lovely, ambling treatment of the pop standard "Snowfall," a spin through the J.B. Lenoir blues "Feelin' Good," pure pop originals such as "She's Got Everything," and a convincing rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Bye Ya" (Monk remains a key influence on Adams).

Tom Ardolino drummed for NRBQ between 1974 and 2004, when the group went on an official hiatus occasioned by Adams's diagnosis of throat cancer. He returned to sit in for a number of tunes on We Travel the Spaceways, which was recorded in Bearsville, New York, on April 2, 2011, and he and Choucroun sound great together. Ardolino died in January of complications from diabetes—he was only 56—so it's a little strange that his passing goes unremarked upon in the album's packaging. NRBQ has always looked upward and onward, though, and in many ways Ardolino's involvement was a kind of after-the-fact passing of the torch.

NRBQ, "We Travel the Spaceways"

photo: Chris Donnelly

Today's playlist:

Various artists, Music From Vietnam (Caprice)
Kelis, Flesh Tone (Will.I.Am/Interscope)
Von Freeman, Have No Fear (Nessa)
Os Novos Baianos, Ferro na Boneca! (RGE/Som Livre)
Fred Frith's Cosa Brava, Ragged Atlas (Intakt)

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