NRBQ Happy Talk
Published Oct 16, 2017NRBQ return in 2017 with Happy Talk, a five-song EP that marks the band's first release since 2016's retrospective box set High Noon: A 50-Year History. Although Terry Adams is the only founding member remaining in the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet, this album is proof that the latest lineup still contains all the vibrancy of the band that started back in 1966.
The levity found on this collection can be found in the delight conveyed by the cover tracks. Of the five songs here, three are originals and two are covers, the latter being "Only the Lonely" by Roy Orbison and title track "Happy Talk" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Terry Adams has a professed love of the R&H standard, and has wanted to do a rendition his whole career, and you can hear the boyish joy in just the first few notes. The Orbison track is delivered in much the same way: "Only the Lonely" mirrors the original in its heartfelt delivery, right down to the nostalgic rock'n'roll ballad arrangement, which features very few alterations.
Unfortunately, it's the lacklustre originals that let the EP down. Tracks like "Blues Blues Blues" and "Yes, I Have a Banana" have all the hokey feel of a part-time dad band. They are fun in their peeling rockabilly enthusiasm, but come across as half-baked (especially the rhyme of "mind" with "mind" on "Blues Blues Blues"). Yet, for a band in their 51st year, you can't blame NRBQ for resting on their laurels a bit. Happy Talk feels like a recording that fulfills a lot of shelved desires, but features nothing to earmark for the canon. (Omnivore)