Happy Birthday Terry and Joey!

Well, the Street Parade has been missing in action for awhile–got quite busy here in mid-summer and blogging took a bit of a backseat.  During the unwitting hiatus, we’ve missed quite a few birthdays to celebrate.  I’ll let most of them slide, but I can’t ignore Terry Adams’ birthday on Aug. 14, especially since it coincides so nicely with Joey Spampinato’s birthday today.  Yes, that madman keyboard player and the rock-steady bassist of NRBQ have just turned 58.

NRBQ, one of the longest-running bands around, took a pinch of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and that Sun records sound, mixed it with some Thelonius Monk, Sun Ra, Chuck Berry, and a little bit of Beatles and cooked it up into their own strange, fun blend that’s been making folks dance for over 40 years.  The band has changed personnel a bit over the years, and shifted early on from the New Rhythm & Blues Quintet to the New Rhythm & Blues Quartet, but Adams and Spampinato (there’s a song on “Message for the Mess Age” in which Terry Adams drills it into our heads how to spell it) along with drummer Tom Ardolino have always been at the heart of it.  They made sure to keep humor in rock & roll.  I mean these are the guys that hired wrestler Captain Lou Albano as their manager and made a song in his honor (and with his crazy rantings in the mix).  They even have an album for the collaboration, Lou and the Q.  These are the guys who for many, many years had the “song hat” at shows in which people could suggest any tune they wanted and they would pick random suggestions from the hat and come up with a version of it.  One reviewer refers to them as “Moe Howard meets Marcel Duchamp” and, yes, if you go see them, be prepared to answer “What are you grinning about” for quite some time.

Oh, but what to suggest for a listening tribute?  It’s a tough call.  There’s so much damn good music to get to for a 40 year career.  Tap Dancing Bats?  Live at Yankee Stadium?  Grooves in Orbit?  Boppin the Blues, that classic session with Carl Perkins sitting in?  Of course the Peek-A-Boo collection is always a good option.  It’s all great stuff and you can’t go wrong, but for my listening suggestion for the day, I’m going with the “Scraps Companion” album, recorded with a small invited audience in the studio in conjunction with the release of Scraps. It’s classic stuff:

It’s got the early version of the band with a bit of the Whole Wheat Horns on it.  Besides, you also get the groovy picture of Joey on the cover looking quite mafioso.  So, as usual, turn it up really loud and make your neighbors dance.

And just in case you don’t have any Q (what’s your problem, anyway?), here’s a little snippet:

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