NRBQ – Tiddlywinks (Reissue)
Though this 15-track collection primarily dates from 1979 its purity, playfulness, & melodic levels of feeling are all pristine. The lead-off cut “Feel You Around Me,” is impressively enduring with a catchy melody that’s standard fare for a more mainstream band like Sailor (“Glass of Champagne,” “Trouble In Hong Kong,” “Girls, Girls, Girls”). Nonetheless, this music conjures happy feet, rock ‘n roll with the “roll” firmly intact with a highly appealing quotient.
“Me and the Boys,” — covered wonderfully by Bonnie Raitt on her “Green Light” LP is a striking original by Terry Adams (piano/clavinet/harmonica/vocals). The song with its potent energy is unfailingly melodic. Bands like Little Feat & the James Gang built careers from stuff like this. The NRBQ treatment is superb throughout.
Recorded at Bearsville Studios, the 4-decades old 42-minute Tiddlywinks (Reissue Drops Jan 27–Omnivore/Red Rooster) provides plenty of NRBQ (New Rhythm & Blues Quintet) nuggets & nostalgia. Like the vintage 1935 classic tune originally recorded by Tommy Dorsey & The Clambake Seven – “The Music Goes Round and Round,” is rendered expertly with their own NRBQ touch that proves old songs can be revised like a flat balloon & taken to the air again.
The band has on occasion been a strange bird. Their showcase emulates oldies, covers, & vintage styles. It all at times borders on novelty – but, their musicianship, skill, arrangements & tailored grace in their presentation transcends each genre. Everything sounds modern, polished, tantalizing & at times juvenile (“Roll Call”) but with bristling fervor. They sound as if they’re having a great time & it comes through the performance. Bands like Stackridge, Deaf School & Sailor did it as well & were purveyors of class in their efforts — as NRBQ certainly does.
A bonus Joey Spampinato (bass/guitar/vocals) cut flows with Everly Brothers’ vocal charm on “I Don’t Think of…” It has a country drive with early 60s pop sensibility. Followed by “Want You To Feel Good Too,” a soulful rocker dipped in 50s jukebox quality commercial juice. How did Robert Gordon miss this one?
Forward to a soul-groove ballad 50s style is “Never Take The Place of You,” which could’ve been a doo-wop song but was played straight & translates into a lovely emotive ballad suitable for an artist like Sam Cooke or Al Green. The other NRBQ members were Al Anderson (guitar/vocal), the late Tommy Ardolino (drums) with the Whole Wheat Horns (Donn Adams (trombone) & Keith Spring (tenor sax).
Highlights – “Feel You Around Me,” “Me and the Boys,” “The Music Goes Round and Round,” “I Don’t Think of…” “Want You To Feel Good Too,” “Never Take The Place of You,” & the harmonica- “Big Goodbyes.”
CD @ Amazon & https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/tiddlywinks/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Interview: NRBQ’s Terry Adams Defines Music’s Spiritual Beauty