Friday, May 29, 2015


I'd read about them for years, "the best bar band you never heard", or something like that. NRBQ's name had popped up with enough frequency that I was curious. It was a mention in Creem magazine that finally made me go out and buy one of their records. It was the pre-internet days. There were only two ways you could hear the oddball stuff. At someone's house with a bigger record collection than yours, or buy a copy and listen to it. So, I bit. I started with their first LP, recorded in 1969, and never ventured much past it. Later albums, while good and entirely listenable, just didn't seem to do it for me. I would find out a couple years later that the real way to experience NRBQ was live. Check the video below, of them playing "Rocket In My Pocket". Better yet, just check the second part of the guitar solo, starting at 3:02. Imagine a whole set with solos that are that tweaked. Good times.

But that first album was something else. All over the place, not at all what I expected. Covers included Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee's "C'mon If Your Comin'", Eddie Cockran's "C'mon Everybody", Bruce Chanel's "Hey Baby" and the most curious of the bunch, "Rocket #9", written and originally performed by some guy named Sun Ra. I'd never heard of him. Yeah. No matter what NRBQ did afterward, live or in the studio, the most important thing they did for me was to turn me onto Sun Ra. "Rocket #9" is a song NRBQ taught me, almost literally, and every second of Sun Ra I've listened to ever since can be traced back to that first exposure. It's remained my favorite NRBQ song, and my favorite Sun Ra song, for decades.

Here's their version (courtesy of The Devil's Music). I'd been keeping my eyes peeled for it for several years. A tip of the hat to ol' Devil Dick for posting it. Their one original below, "You Can't Hide" is down there because you need to imagine a sample juxtaposition, that it's the same band as "Rocket #9". You'd be all "WTF?" too. There's a few other songs down there that NRBQ covered. Check the original of "Rocket In My Pocket" by Jimmy Lloyd. Phew! Another monster. That was covered on a later NRBQ LP, but they taught me that one too.

NRBQ - Rocket #9 mp3 (via MediaFire) at The Devil's Music
NRBQ - You Can't Hide
(streaming) at YouTube
Sun Ra - Rocket #9
(streaming) at YouTube
Jimmy Lloyd - I've Got a Rocket In My Pocket mp3
at Mp3 Rockabilly
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee - C'mon If Your Comin' (streaming) at YouTube
Bruce Chanel - Hey Baby mp3
at Radio George