Tracks: C’mon Everybody (S)/Rocket Number 9/Kentucky Slop Song/Ida/C’Mon If You’re Comin’/You Can’t Hide/I Didn’t Know Myself/Stomp (S)/Fergie’s Prayer/Mama Get Down Those Rock And Roll Shoes/Hymn Number 5/Hey! Baby/Liza Jane/Stay With Me
Recorded: Record Plant NY, December 1968.
Released: 1969. Chart Peak: 162 (US)
Personnel: Frank Gadler (voc), Steve Ferguson (gtr, voc), Jody St. Nicholas (bs, voc), G.T Staley (perc), Terry Adams (kybd, harmonica, recorder, voc), Donn Adams (trombone). Engineer: Ed Kramer Producer: Frank Scinlaro & NRBQ
*The eclectic debut album by America‘s long-lived, much-loved “best kept secret”–still going strong three decades on.
Remarkable then and even more remarkable in hindsight: A rock ‘n’ roll album alternating colorful original material with covers of Eddie Cochran, Carla Bley, Bruce Channel, Brownie Terry & Sonny McGee and, lest we forget, one Sun Ra. If not all in a day’s work, certainly all in one live set’s–for this startlingly prescient recording debut documents one of America’s finest band’s modus operandi since Day One.
Recorded at New York’s Record Plant even before the New Rhythm & Blues Quintet had officially been inked to Columbia Records by its then prez Clive Davis, NRBQ sounded so much like nobody else that the inevitable occurred. New York Times writer Mike Jahn called them the next Fab Five. “NRBQ is the first group to play magic music since the Beatles grew up,” quoth he on this album’s back jacket, high praise that would linger long enough to bite the group on its collective buttocks. “I don’t know what all the fuss was,” keyboardist Terry Adams would recount to this writer some 12 years later, “somebody just made a big deal out of it. Nah, at the time the word ‘hype’ just came out, and people were dying for a chance to use it.”
Such allegations seem laughable now, as Album Number One by Miami’s finest-ever rock ‘n’ roll band sounds stunningly mature when compared to the work of such “unhyped” contemporaries as Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly. Boasting a powerful original lineup including lead singer Frankie Gadler and remarkable guitarist/songwriter Steve Ferguson (both to soon depart), NRBQ were among the very first rock bands to “get” it–to take all forms of American music, listen intently, synthesize all they heard, and produce something that sounds completely original even today.
And how did they come to introduce the work of Sun Ra to a baby-faced pop audience? “First thing I did when I got to New York, beside call Thelonious Monk, was go hear Sun Ra,” Adams later remembered. “I had to. He used to play every Monday night to about 12 or 15 people. And he invited me to his house, and I went, and he gave me a single–`Rocket Number 9.â€™ He looked at me and said, ‘This is especially for you.’ And I took it home and I said, “He’s right, this is especially for me.” And that song is the first song we ever played under the name NRBQ.”
Further listening: At Yankee Stadium (1978), Peek-A-Boo: The Best Of NRBQ 1969-1989 (1990)