NRBQ – Dragnet
Right from the start the carefully constructed almost novelty oriented (but far from it) – “Where’s My Pebble,” struts along on a cloud of Duane Eddy-type guitars, thundering bass & lightning steady sharp drums with a 60s type backup vocal reminiscent of The 5 Blobs (“The Blob”), the Del-Lords, Tito & Tarantula & other dark, delicious bands.
This is the intro to the first new full-length LP in 8 years from a somewhat legendary if not notorious & redoubtable NRBQ. Dragnet (Drops Nov 12–Big Notes/Omnivore) will include a vinyl edition (early 2022). The LP features originals by all 4 band members plus an updated, NRBQ treatment of the classic TV series theme. For nerds? No…baby-boomers.
The band began as early as 1965, released its self-titled debut in 1969, has been recording & touring consistently until its 35th Anniversary (2004). A hiatus until 2011 & the current band still slings away with authority: Terry Adams (keyboards), Scott Ligon (guitar), Casey McDonough (bass) & John Perrin (drums – since 2015).
The band dips a big toe into novelty ponds, but they are all expert ocean swimmers. “Memo Song,” is an excellent example of the band having fun but playing with expertise & creativity. They were never a Rolling Stones, or as polished as the Beach Boys, but they were a great rock & roll band. Their hi-jinks at times veering off down Zappa Highway (“Five More Miles” & “Miss Goody Two Shoes”).
But this wasn’t a band of emulation, they were innovative. Melodies always strong, lyrics clever, humorous with a sting, serious with a pinch of sugar & the performance: colorful, quirky but always, always interesting.
There are times in the past I felt a Little Feat breeze, The Turtles at their wackiest (flipsides) not their mainstream commercial tunes & England’s Stackridge/Korgis (even on this LP “You Can’t Change People”).
This can be a drawback, but not for NRBQ. They manage to acquire a reputation for good playing, consistently exciting shows that the material itself was never detrimental. They perform superbly, & one listen to “Dragnet,” is proof. Tight, innovative, a gratifying delivery, borderline early punk with melodic overtones. Almost early Wire (“Dot Dash”) which was probably influenced by an earlier NRBQ (New Rhythm & Blues Quartet).
The band’s been known for its spontaneity, its mesh of genres: rock, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, a dash of the blues. If nothing else these musicians were resourceful.
Nostalgic? The tune “That Makes Me A Fool,” is immersed in retro 60s romantic. It works on that teenage level. The 11-cuts were produced imaginatively by Big Notes.
It’s one of those rock bands that’s always entertaining. Their reputation has always been reliable & they’re survivors of the rock & roll world. Color image courtesy of John Krucke. The 33-minute CD is available @ https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/dragnet/