Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NRBQ: Workshop (1973)

Eddie Kramer: Engineer, Producer.

Lineup 3 (1972-74):
Terry Adams: keyboards, vocals harmonica
Al Anderson: vocals, guitar
Joey Spampinato: vocals, bass
Tom Staley: drums, percussion

Workshop Kama Sutra LP 1973
Workshop Scraps & Workshop Annuit Coeptis 1976 LP AC-1001-2
Workshop Sundazed LP 2007 LP-5185
Workshop Caraway/Japan CD 2008
RC Cola and a Moon Pie CD 1986 Rounder/Red Rooster (Contains some, but not all, of the songs from Workshop, plus two previously unlreleased songs "Ratch-i-tatch" and "Louisville."

1. C'mon If You're Comin' (McGhee, Terry)
2. RC Cola and a Moon Pie (Adams)
3. Blues Stay Away from Me (Delmore, Delmore, Glover, Raney)
4. Mona (Spampinato)
5. Just to Hold My Hand
6. Get That Gasoline Blues
7. Deaf, Dumb, and Blind (Spampinato)
8. Miss Moses (Adams)
9. I Got a Little Secret
10. Hearts of Stone
11. Misunderstanding
12. Four Million B.C.


Get That Gasoline Blues b/w Mona [Kama Sutra 1974. Reached #70 on The Billboard Hot 100]

The wildly eclectic New Rhythm & Blues Quintet, better known to its worldwide legion of adoring fans as NRBQ (or just the Q!), is the only band on the planet that can play rockabilly, bar-band blooze, Beatles sound-alikes and Sun Ra-style free jazz in the same set and remain standing.

The Q immediately followed Scraps with 1973’s equally terrific Workshop. Gadler had departed, reducing the Quintet to its customary foursome (natch!), but the band never missed a beat with an album that featured the hypnotically chugging “Come On If You’re Coming,” the mouth-watering “RC Cola and a Moon Pie” and the ultra-prophetic “Get That Gasoline Blues."

Review by Lindsay Planer

Originally titled Age of Aquariums, Workshop became the first album to feature what is considered by many to be the "classic quartet" version of NRBQ. This incarnation incorporated the talents of bandleader Terry Adams (keyboard/coronet/trumpet), Joey Spampinato (bass/guitar/sax/vocals), Al Anderson (guitar/vocals), and, in his final studio appearance with the band, Tom Staley (drums). Although they had been performing with an evolving makeshift horn section -- which could (and often would) include coronet/trumpet player Terry Adams and saxophonist Joey Spampinato -- this disc also debuts the semi-permanent Whole Wheat Horn section, consisting of Terry's brother Donn Adams on trombone and Keith Spring on sax. The shift in personnel served the 'Q well, as Workshop was lauded and raved about by enthusiasts as well as pop music critics. Producer Eddie Kramer was able to further enhance the band's practically indefinable style, ranging from the undeniable Paul McCartney-influenced Spampinato rocker "Deaf, Dumb and Blind" to the understated grace and complex rhythmic syncopation of Terry Adams' "Miss Moses." Another Spampinato gem is the organic pop ballad "Mona." Instrumentally, the track is notable for Terry's accordion accents, as well as the conspicuous absence of drums. In addition to the copious originals, the guys revived the C&W-tinged "Blues Stay Away From Me," which had actually been recorded for inclusion on their previous long-player, Scraps. Likewise, their second stab at Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry's "Come On If You're Comin'" reinforced the popularity of the track, which became a performance and enthusiast favorite. A similar fate would befall the 'Q's unofficial anthem -- the down-home rockabilly rave-up "RC Cola & a Moon Pie." Sadly, Workshop was never reprinted, although several notable compilations such as RC Cola & a Moon Pie (1986) have included key tracks.

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