Uncommon Denominators

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Uncommon Denominators not only contains a sampling of material from half a dozen of NRBQ's LPs for Rounder/Red Rooster, but there is also the Q's previously unavailable sonic desecration of the Jule Styne pop standard "People" -- which can rightly be considered as the anti-Streisand version. The New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (NRBQ) are known as much for their "world's greatest bar band" status and preeminent level of musicianship as they are for their down-to-earth and off-the-wall songwriting and performance styles. The longest enduring and arguably most endearing lineup of the band is also the most uncompromising -- featuring Terry Adams (keyboards, mouth harp, trumpet, vocals), Tom Ardolino (drums), "Big" Al Anderson (guitar, vocals), and Joey Spampinato (bass, guitar, vocals). Along with the occasional guest vocalist -- such as wrestling magnate "Captain" Lou Albano on the aptly titled "Captain Lou" -- NRBQ's unrelentingly catchy pop and rock tunes range from the sublime ("Me and the Boys") to the silly ("Wacky Tobacky") and virtually every facet in between. One of the qualities that has endeared the Q to every strata of pop music enthusiast is the sheer joy and passion that the bandmembers bring to their craft. This compilation exudes with examples -- such as the funky clavinet-driven "Howard Johnson's Got His Ho-Jo Workin'" or the rockabilly-inspired "Don't She Look Good." The band also has a stunning capability for insightful ballads, such as the acoustically oriented "Only You," "Miss Moses," and "Beverly." The flip side of that are pieces such as "Trouble at the Henhouse" -- with its avant-garde and demented guitar introduction -- and the previously mentioned live version of "People" -- which was appropriately enough recorded at the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y.C.

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