"High Noon--A 50-Year Retrospective"
Terry Adams, an hour or so before his Monday night NRBQ gig at B.B. King's in New York, was indulging a typically rabid and longtime "Q" fan who had been surprised by an unexpected gift in the mail.
"I opened the package and it was the box set!" said the fan, referring to NRBQ's five-CD High Noon--A 50-Year Retrospective, which came out late last year.
"It was like Christmas in June!" the fan enthused, adding that two personal Q faves—"12 Bar Blues," written by late Canadian musician Jack Butwell, and Adams' own "Terry Got a Muffin"—both made the cut in the 10- track set that includes remastered classics and rare and previously unissued material (accompanied by extensive notes featuring a new essay from NRBQ authority John DeAngelis and vintage photos).
The fan's excitement could not be contained.
"'Terry Got a Muffin' has to be maybe the greatest song ever written!" he said, then recited the raucous tune's autobiographical first line.
"'Terry got a muffin and he buttered it down!' I mean, that's exactly what you do with a muffin! Same with what Joey [former longtime NRBQ bass player Joey Spampinato] does with jelly [spreads it out], and what [Joey's brother and former NRBQ guitarist] Johnny does with popcorn [pops it up], and what Tom [late NRBQ drummer Tom Ardolino] does with a chip [puts it in the dip]!"
"It really is pure genius!" the fan maintained.
"But you know, no one ever eats anything," offered the ever-humble Adams, having digested the fan's adulation as best he could. This gave the fan pause.
"I see," the fan quietly ruminated, then the light bulb flashed. "It's really about food preparation!"
As for "12 Bar Blues," that one's really pretty self-explanatory, as the fan noted, then explained anyway: "I mean, it counts it out! One, two, three…." Sure enough, he proceeded to count to 12, same as the song lyric.
Lucky for the fan—and for all the others in attendance at what would be another exhilarating NRBQ roller coaster ride show—NRBQ, which now consists of veterans Adams on keyboards and vocals, guitarist/vocalist Scott Ligon and bassist/vocalist Casey McDonough, along with newcomer John Perrin on drums—played both his faves. They also performed several other gems also included in High Noon, among them the classics "RC Cola and a Moon Pie" and "Me and the Boys," the latter segueing into Moondog's charming "Paris" (a live version of which is also on High Noon—same with "Boozoo and Leona," which they also did at B.B.'s).
"It's like calling a set," Adams told the fan in the dressing room before the show. "Put on a disc and it's not necessarily the 'best of' NRBQ or the 'most requested' songs, but there's a lot of stuff there that hasn't been available, and if your favorite song isn't there, well, you own it somewhere else, so it doesn't matter. It is what it is."
And it's just the beginning of NRBQ's new relationship with Omnivore Recordings, which not only put the box set together according to Adams' suggestions, but agreed with him that they need to put out new NRBQ albums, alternated, perhaps, with additional archival releases.
Meanwhile, Chicago-based Ligon and McDonough have an upbeat harmony-pop album out (It's a World of Love and Hope) as part of the Flat Five, a quintet evoking the likes of the Beach Boys and the Boswell Sisters and focusing on novel songs penned by Ligon's older brother Chris. At Monday night's gig they performed the album's "Almond Grove," and McDonough turned in a lovely version of the Beach Boys' "Don’t Worry Baby"; then again, Adams had earlier told the fan that McDonough had subbed for Brian Wilson's high-parts singer on some recent Pet Sounds tour dates, so he had it down.
Adams also related, incidentally, that Pet Sounds was the first Beach Boys record he bought, having gone in to buy "Caroline, No"--the 1966 Brian Wilson solo single that was also the final track two months later on Pet Sounds--and being urged by the record store lady to come back in a couple days for the album's release.
By the way, NRBQ followed "Terry Got a Muffin" at B.B. King's with another Q edible, "Girl Scout Cookies." They finished with "12 Bar Blues" and another Q chestnut—also in the new box—"I Want You Bad." And then they were off for a nine-city tour of California, the band's first West Coast swing, Adams had told the fan, since the 1980s.
"There are eight million stories in the naked city," he said before the demanding crowd finally let them leave the stage. "This was one of them."
"Terry Got a Muffin"