For half a century, idiosyncratic rock band NRBQ has been blazing a unique trail in rock ‘n’ roll. Still led by the group’s founder, pianist and songwriter and all-around musical visionary Terry Adams, the group continues to play its signature blend of early rock ‘n’ roll with touches of pop, jazz, funk, blues, and experimental music, that magically remains accessible and party-friendly.
If you bought the debut album by NRBQ when it was released on Columbia Records in 1969, you might have been thrown off guard. It was representative of a musical approach that thought nothing of introducing rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran to jazz space-alien Sun Ra, nodding over to R&B legend Chuck Willis, contributing unique original songwriting, and just stomping all over the joint. Were they a revival band? A jazz fusion band? Was this rockabilly? Power pop before it was named? Americana before that was named? NRBQ were behind and ahead of the curve from the start, and that’s where they’ve remained over the past five decades, amassing a discography that is way overdue for a complete reappraisal and gathering an audience for whom the word “loyal” is far less than adequate.
There really is no other band that does what NRBQ does, something that’s beyond category, as Duke Ellington would say about his music, something that could never be pinpointed as “rock,” exactly, although that’s as good a description as any. Much has been made over the years of the band’s eclectic nature, but it has its roots in a very solid tradition of taking diverse musical strains and incorporating them into an all-encompassing vision.