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Album Review

Thirty years after they began their professional recording career, NRBQ was still rolling on, and in order to commemorate their anniversary they released another album called NRBQ — which happens to be the title of their first album from 1969. More significantly for longtime Q fans, 1999's NRBQ is their first proper studio album (meaning, not a children's album or live album or reissue) in five years, since 1994's confused Message for the Mess Age. NRBQ does improve on that effort, largely because the band has gotten comfortable with Al Anderson's replacement, Johnny Spampinato, which makes it sound better than its predecessor; in retrospect, that record suffers from Anderson's desire to be elsewhere. Here, they hit upon a comfortable, earthy groove early on, and they ride it throughout the album. Sure, they get too cutesy — "Puddin' Truck," "CM Pups," and "I Want My Mommy" being prime suspects — but it wouldn't be a Q album without that. And it also wouldn't be a Q album if the musicianship wasn't so thoroughly impressive and rich that it makes up for the other flaws, whether it's cutesiness or underdeveloped material. At its core, NRBQ the 1999 version isn't much different than most of their studio LPs, but it's a solid and entertaining one, and considering that it arrives on their 30th anniversary, that alone is an accomplishment of sorts.


Formed: 1967 in Miami, FL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Often called "the world's greatest bar band," NRBQ are that rare group that's eclectic, stylistically innovative, and creatively ambitious while also sounding thoroughly unpretentious and accessible. At its best, NRBQ's music casually mixes up barrelhouse R&B, British Invasion pop, fourth-gear rockabilly, exploratory free jazz, and dozens of other flavors while giving it all a stomp-down rhythm that makes fans want to dance and expressing a sense of joy and easy good humor that comes straight...
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