We’ve got another new Omnivore reissue of a classic NRBQ album to talk about and it’s Tiddlywinks. Not a boring kids game, this one. Well… it does have a slight naiveté to it, but this one – originally issued on the band’s Red Rooster label in 1980 – is pure NRBQ. You get all the ingredients of a Q classic: humor, poignancy, rockin’, rollin’ and a slightly skewed yet completely healthy take on what makes rock ’n’ roll so fun all these years along.
Probably the NRBQ tune most people know (if they know any of them) is “Me and the Boys,” a cracker of a song that’s been covered by both Dave Edmunds and Bonnie Raitt (both big Q fans), and it’s here sounding better than ever. Other stellar band originals “Want You to Feel Good Too,” “Beverly” and “Feel You Around Me” are here, too. Basically, all three NRBQ songwriters are well represented: Terry Adams (keyboards, clavinet), Al Anderson (guitar) and Joey Spampinato (bass). (Drummer Tom Ardolino didn’t write any of these but his drumming is excellent.) Also present on Tiddlywinks is the band’s sprightly take on “Music Goes ’Round and Around” (from 1935 and a perennial jazz/R&B favorite). This Omnivore reissue includes a few bonus tracks, though one or two have appeared on previous Q CD reissues. All told, Tiddlywinks is an essential release from the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet.
Also reissued by Omnivore is a 2006 release by founding NRBQ members TERRY ADAMS & STEVE FERGUSON, Louisville Sluggers. Though Ferguson left the band after only a few albums, he was the main dude when they were still a quintet and is responsible for some of their all-time greats, including my fave, “Flat Foot Flewzy.” These two guys have stayed friends over the years and they collaborated on this album to prove it. Louisville Sluggers is a Q album in all but name, since the aforementioned Tom Ardolino provides drums for the proceedings and a few other band buds contribute, but the overall feel of this release is not as “Q-y” as I’d hoped for. You do get the essence of an NRBQ outing, true, but if you weren’t already a fan you might not detect it. Still, with guys this talented, how can you not find something to dig? – Marsh Gooch
4/5 (NRBQ, Omnivore OVCD-500), 2.5/5 (Adams & Ferguson, OVCD-514) (2023)