Title - 'In. Frequencies'
Artist - NRBQ
For those unaware, originally birthed in Miami, Florida, in 1967, NRBQ — the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet — established their New England cred when singer/guitarist Al Anderson (ex-Wildweeds) joined existing members pianist Terry Adams, bassist Joey Spampinato and drummer Tom Staley (later replaced by Al Ardolino) in 1974, ushering in a twenty-year run of stability for a band known as much for its revolving-door line-up as its ability to tackle nearly any musical style — jazz, pop, blues rock, power pop, et al.
Despite only having one song chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (1974’s #70 'Get That Gasoline Blues'), and several New England-area hits — notably 1977’s instant-classic 'Ridin’ In My Car' — NRBQ maintained a loyal cult fanbase and reputation for wild, setlist-free concerts.
Anderson left the group in 1994, replaced by Spampinato’s brother Johnny; the group continued to tour and release albums in various line-up permutations, occasionally celebrating anniversary concerts at Northampton, MA’s Calvin Theater, in shows that frequently featured past NRBQ members.
The soon-to-be released In. Frequencies (October 2nd, 2020, via Omnivore Recordings) is a quite wondrous 16-song collection of NRBQ rarities, and will be made available as digital, on CD and as a limited edition yellow vinyl LP (availably exclusively only via Omnivore Recordings website).
In. Frequencies has already been described as a journey with the ’Q through a different lens, and having listened to it twice now, I have to agree.
A true, career-spanning release, the album opens on the band’s beginning with a soundcheck recording from October 1968, and travels all the way to recent days, including the first physical appearance of their 2018 digital EP track, April Showers (recorded for the 2018 film Change in the Air, with the late Hal Willner as musical director).
Indeed, all but four tracks are previously unissued. Of the recordings that have previously released, two made their debut on those oh-so now rare 45's.
Furthermore, they are also the NRBQ offshoot “mock” group, Dickens, which provides the obscure 1970 single track 'Sho’ Need Love' and 'Sourpuss,' recorded in Memphis in 1974 and first issued on the Select-O-Hits label.
1. 'Dogwood Winter' (Soundcheck Recording)
2. 'Get Real'
3. 'Sho’ Need Love' [Dickens]
5. 'It’s A Wild Weekend' (Soundcheck Recording)
6. 'Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Girl'
7. 'Love Came To Me' (Live at WDET-FM)
8. 'We’ll Make Love' (Live at Trinity College)
9. 'April Showers'
10. 'That’s All'
11. 'Everybody’s Smokin’' (Alternate Version)
12. 'Blues Stay Away From Me'
13. 'My Dearest One'
15. 'Too Much' (Live At The Pyramid Arena)
16. 'Chapel Of Love'
Having already enjoyed a career that has spanned over five decades, this band, that has conjured up a unique blend of early R&B, devoted country, rockabilly, seductive '70s melodies, and even novelty songs along the way, all embedded within a wonderfully improvisational energy, first bring us the short, but sweet lo-fi, gently countrified guitar magnificence of 'Dogwood Winter' (a soundcheck recording) and that's backed by the drum-led, mid-tempo 'Get Real.'
We then get the stirringly '70s magnetism of 'Sho’ Need Love' [as Dickens], the Motown-esque, finger-snappin' vibe of 'Orioles' and the late '60s guitar rock of 'It’s A Wild Weekend' (another soundcheck recording).
Up next is the foot-tappin' melodies of 'Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Girl' which is backed by the lush, laid back tones of 'Love Came To Me' (recorded live at WDET-FM), the crowd-enhanced, horn-backed R&B of 'We’ll Make Love' (recorded live at Trinity College), and the lush '70s melodic vibe of 'April Showers.'
We next get one of my own personal favorites on this new release, the horn-led, hipsway jazzy blues orchestrations of 'That’s All' which is followed by the one-two, rockin' pop sounds of 'Everybody’s Smokin’' (an alternate version), and the lowdown and soulful 'Blues Stay Away From Me.'
The XTC-esque 'My Dearest One' is another stand out here, with the album rounding out on the rockabilly of 'Sourpuss,' the blues piano work of 'Too Much' (recorded live At The Pyramid Arena), and then closing on a Phil Spector cover, now a spoken word imbibed, and yet still highly energetic 'Chapel Of Love'.
“As a member of the band, I get to hear an awful lot of stuff that other people don’t have access to," NRBQ member Scott Ligon reveals, "but I’m hearing most of these tracks for the first time."
"The Dickens track ‘Sho’ Need Love’ is a real favorite for me. It’s almost too good to be true! It’s also hard to believe that I had never heard Terry [Adams]’s ‘Get Real’ or ‘Let Me Tell You ’Bout My Girl’ until this collection came together."
"You think you know a person! But ‘April Showers’ is my sentimental favorite. The piano break is unreal. The singer ain’t bad either.”
Founding member Adams adds: “When these songs surfaced on the tapes I felt like I was meeting an interesting woman for the first time. I had to say, ‘What’s a song like you doing on a tape like this?’”
In. Frequencies is a deep dive into why the band is a favorite of humans the world over and is a perfect compendium to their core studio albums and retrospectives you already love.
The tracks are annotated with information, anecdotes and photos elaborating on the recordings made in studios, radio stations and stages across the country and the decades.
Official Purchase Links
NRBQ @ Facebook
Official Omnivore NRBQ In. Frequencies Trailer