BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
To put it simply, NRBQ are the Everyman band… and the everybody band as well. Over the course of more than five decades and countless continuing releases, they’ve proven their ability to transcend musical genres while reflecting certain essential tenants of popular music, be it rock or blues, soul or swing. Their dexterity is far greater than most any other outfit one might ever imagine, and that includes combos both past and present. Indeed, their essential greatness lies in the fact that they simply defy definition but yet, at the same time, transcend any signature style, making any attempt to confine them to a category silly and superfluous.
These days, only multi-instrumentalist Terry Adams remains of the original ensemble, but those that share his efforts and enthusiasm continue to make NRBQ as effusive and enthusiastic as they were back in the day. There could be no greater evidence of that fact than this new expansive 21 song double disc consisting of two concerts recorded live on both CD and DVD. Their astonishing skill and spontaneity are evidenced throughout, and even when the band make an unlikely segue way from an earnest take on the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” — the upper register vocals intact — to a giddy instrumental cover of “Red River Valley” — renamed here, “Red River Rock” — their verve and versatility are delivered hand in hand. Likewise, it’s no small wonder that they can start the set with a reprise of the Goffin-King classic “Don’t Ever Change” while coming across like Merseyside merrymakers, and then end things on an equally upbeat note in the form of Adams’ “RC Cola and a Moon Pie.”
Needless to say, long-time admirers may be amazed that the band continue to ply their collective craft in such effective yet irreverent ways. Yet at the same time, there’s no better point of entrance for newcomers as well. Consequently, Turn On, Tune In is as convincing an entreaty as anyone might ever imagine.
TRACKS TO TRACK DOWN: “Don’t Ever Change,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Red River Rock”