NRBQ

Turn On, Tune In

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AllMusic Review by

Since they first came together in the late '60s, NRBQ have been a band in a constant state of evolution, and that's been especially true since 2011, when after seven years of inactivity, keyboard man and co-founder Terry Adams assembled a new edition of the group from the membership of his combo the Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet. On their first studio releases, 2011's Keep This Love Goin' and 2012's We Travel the Spaceways, this new NRBQ sounded more like a Terry Adams project trying hard to sound like NRBQ. However, after a few years of road work and seasoning, the four musicians have grown into their roles, and while this version of NRBQ bears a certain musical resemblance to the classic Adams, Anderson, Ardolino, and Spampinato line-up of the '70s and '80s, they've developed a very similar sense of near-telepathic musical interplay, and they have the chops, the instincts, the stylistic range, and the sense of fun that have always made the band unique. NRBQ have always been at their best on-stage, and 2019's Turn On, Tune In is a live set that captures the band in full swing, living up to their reputation. The album was drawn from a pair of radio sessions, a six-song performance from 2015 cut for satellite radio, and 15 tunes they played in a show for New Jersey's celebrated free-form station WFMU-FM. While the 2015 material is up to the group's high standards, especially on "Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard" and the Keith Ferguson chestnut "Step Aside," the 2017 set is where the quartet really gets to strut their stuff, and the joyous, anything-goes keyboard style of Adams, the sharp but flexible guitar work of Scott Ligon, the rock-solid but melodic foundation of Casey McDonough's bass, and the utterly satisfying snap of John Perrin's drumming blend together into the mix of rock, blues, pop, jazz, and R&B that no one else can do quite this way. In short, Turn On, Tune In proves that this NRBQ truly is NRBQ in the most important ways, and they can do something no other band can quite touch, just like always. [The CD version of Turn On, Tune In comes with a bonus DVD that allows you to see and hear the WFMU concert in full.]

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