NRBQ's "Ridin' in My Car"
Omnivore Recordings’ commitment to historic omnidirectional band NRBQ continues with the recent reissue of an expanded edition of the group’s 41-year-old album All Hopped Up on CD and vinyl.
Featuring the same front and back artwork and original song sequence, the new version includes liner notes from NRBQ historian John DeAngelis and four bonus tracks.
Released in 1977, All Hopped Up was NRBQ’s fifth album--but the first to star the classic line-up of founders Terry Adams (keyboards) and Joey Spampinato (bass) along with guitarist Al Anderson and drummer Tom Ardolino. It was actually Ardolino’s first album with the group--which would tour and record together in that format over the next 20 years--as well as the first to feature compositions from Anderson.
Additionally, it was the first NRBQ album to extensively showcase the Whole Wheat Horns section made up of Adams’ brother Donn Adams on trombone and Keith Spring on saxophone.
Finally, All Hopped Up was the first “Q“ album produced by Adams and Spampinato, and issued on NRBQ’s own independent label, Red Rooster Records (later to release NRBQ album landmarks including Kick Me Hard and Tiddlywinks, not to mention the first vinyl reissue of the Shaggs’ legendary Philosophy of the World).
“It’s a homemade album,” says Adams. “We didn’t have a label [after two albums each for Columbia and Kama Sutra] and started recording in New York. After a period of collecting music and producing ourselves, we made our own record company and put it out. The band was happy, and the four of us expressed ourselves—and it was a good time to catch the band.”
As DeAngelis recounts in his notes, All Hopped Up was in fact recorded over a two-year period from November of 1974 to November of 1976, then released in April, 1977. Then 19, Ardolino had joined in August, 1974, three months before the recording sessions commenced.
Also noteworthy is that with songs like Jimmy Lloyd’s 1958 gem “I Got a Rocket in My Pocket”—still an NRBQ concert staple--the album added pop and blues flavorings to the ever eclectic musical mix from which the NRBQ acronym (New Rhythm & Blues Quartet) derives.
“All of this adds up to a great album by a great band, free from and unfettered by any constraints imposed on them by a record company or outside producer, and clearly having a blast in the recording studio,” wrote DeAngelis.
“Over the years people have told me it’s their favorite NRBQ album, and I thought, ‘Really? Why?’” acknowledges Adams. “But after working on the reissue, I sort of get it: I didn’t realize then how good it was, and after remastering it, it sounds really good!”
Omnivore’s All Hopped Up reissue was preceded by a digital single, “April Showers,” which is featured in Change in the Air, the new film drama starring Rachel Brosnahan and Aidan Quinn and scored by Adams and Bill Frisell. The digital release also included live recordings of All Hopped Up’s “It Feels Good” and “Still in School.”
The All Hopped Up reissue follows Omnivore’s reissue earlier this year of NRBQ’s 1969 self-titled debut album and last year’s five-song Happy Talk EP and the five-CD High Noon--A 50-Year Retrospective NRBQ box set released in late 2016.
Meanwhile, NRBQ’s current line-up of Adams, guitarist Scott Ligon, bassist Casey McDonough and drummer John Perrin is just back from a West Coast tour and set to close out 2018 with a Dec. 30 show at Murmrr Ballroom in Brooklyn and a Dec. 31 gig at Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, Conn.