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God Bless Us All

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Album Review

If NRBQ had been given a dollar every time someone called them "the World's Greatest Bar Band" in the '70s and '80s, they probably could have bought a jet to fly from gig to gig, but despite their potent reputation as a live act, it wasn't until 1987 that they finally got around to releasing a live album. God Bless Us All wasn't the sort of live album designed to make an NRBQ show sound like an event (it doesn't even feature any of the group's "hits" beyond "Me and the Boys"), but it's an admirably accurate document of what the band sounded like on a good night. God Bless Us All was recorded (with no overdubs) during a gig in Rhode Island with the Whole Wheat Horns in tow, and stylistically it jumps all over the place, beginning with the rollicking "Crazy Like a Fox" weaving through a respectfully soulful cover of Billy Stewart's "Sitting in the Park," giving the players plenty of room to stretch out on "Here Comes Terry" and "She Got the House," getting as goofy as they wanna be on "Down at the Zoo" and "Mouthwaterin'," and rocking the club to the foundations with "Shake, Rattle and Roll." NRBQ are clearly having a great time on this particular evening, but you don't have to listen too hard to hear four great musicians cooking with gas; Al Anderson's guitar work is razor sharp, Terry Adams is a joyously inventive keyboard man, and Joey Spampinato and Tom Ardolino groove hard on every tune. Someone once described God Bless Us All as preserving "one night in the life of NRBQ," and after listening to it, it's hard not to envy the folks in the audience — or the four guys on-stage.


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 from...
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