NRBQ Grooves In Orbit (1983)

frontGrooves In Orbit (1983)
One Of Many Essential NRBQ Albums

There’s no shortage of great NRBQ releases. But, fans of the eclectic ensemble’s irresistible pop side need look no further than this great early-80s album, Grooves In Orbit. I’m admittedly biased, since a cassette of this one inhabited my car for almost two years, until the magnetics cried uncle and I sacrificed it to the Interstate gods one afternoon. It’s a compatible mix of pop songs and bar rockers that works both ways. NRBQ are commonly referred to as one of the world’s greatest bar bands (the live track “Daddy-O” will offer a taste), and their R&B-laced, good time roots rock & roll never fails to satisfy a crowd that’s typically as lubricated as the band members themselves – for which I can attest, having seen them twice around this time. In the mid-80s I also experienced a chance encounter one morning with pianist Terry Adams while checking into a cheap, out-of-town motel. I said, “Hey… Terry Adams? Please tell me you’re checking in and not out.” Perhaps because we were both wearing the same night-after sun glasses, he sensed a kindred spirit. “Aw, man. We played last night, sorry… Wanna get a drink ’til the others get up?” This 1990 issue features 2 tracks not on the original vinyl. @ Amazon, HERE.

Rain At The Drive-In (3:12)
Some Kind Of Blues (3:19)
How Can I Make You Love Me (2:53)
12 Bar Blues (2:49)
A Girl Like That (2:42)
My Girlfriend’s Pretty (2:48)
When Things Was Cheap (3:56)
Smackaroo (2:03)
I Like That Girl (2:37)
Daddy-“O” (2:45)
Get Rhythm (3:05)
Hit The Hay (2:27)
Tonight You Belong To Me (2:07)


  • Willard
    February 5, 2013 - 13:39 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Joe
    February 5, 2013 - 15:24 | Permalink

    Thanks – I’ve always loved this album! Rain at the Drive-in is an all-time classic.

  • Vern "Clutch" MacGillicuddy
    February 5, 2013 - 15:26 | Permalink

    Sweet! Can’t wait to dl and listen. I’ve long admired this group “in theory” but the only CD I’ve ever owned is 1990’s “Wild Weekend.” Which, I might add, is a perennial favorite.

  • apollojams
    February 6, 2013 - 07:15 | Permalink

    Bravo, Willard, Bravo! Thanx!

  • slovenlyeric
    February 6, 2013 - 13:56 | Permalink

    In 1984 – 86 I worked at the Bottom Line In NYC and NRBQ was one of the two or three most successful bands for our club, not only did they sell a lot of tickets, but those who attended drank a lot of beer. One memory I have is of Big Al leaning on me while I was carrying 4 cases of beer. They would do things like have people shout out stump the band type requests. Every show was different and I saw them at least a dozen time.

  • February 6, 2013 - 15:33 | Permalink

    One of the least appreciated musical treasures in the US is the band known as NRBQ! I had a great time opening a bunch of shows for these fellas in the 80’s and they are as wacky as their music fer sure.

  • Indiana Scott
    February 6, 2013 - 20:01 | Permalink

    Thanks! Us backwoods people here in Indiana never carried NRBQ despite my protests.

  • February 7, 2013 - 01:41 | Permalink

    Much appreciation as always!

  • Duncan Walls
    February 7, 2013 - 04:03 | Permalink

    Like Slovenlyeric I worked at a club (The Red Creek in Rochester, NY) that hosted the Q dozens of times in my7 tenure there and I’ve seen them at least 10 more times without Big Al during the Spampinato Bros era. I was the DJ before the show, between sets (which started out as 3 in the late 70s but later became two) and after and always relished the chance to prime the crowd (AND the band) with the weirdness from my collection that I knew would be tolerated on a Q night. When else could I play the Woody Woodpecker song? They were ALWAYS entertaining and I was as glued to the stage as anyone when they were in town.

    Terry Adams played this Hohner Pianet (a piano-clavinet beast) like a guitar god tipping and pounding it to within an inch of it’s life. He provided me with mucho inspiration when my own band did our best NRBQ imitation, zooming over a sprawling repertoire that encompassed multiple genres and decades and I became fearless onstage with my parade of badly maintained keyboards.

    To the last, every show I saw with B ig Al was a blast, but the best may have been the night they shared the stage with John Sebastian. Sebastian did a solos set, The Q did a long one of their own then for the encore Sebastian joined them for a tour of the Lovin’ Spoonful catalog. I knew it was coming (as did my boss, which is why he booked that night and also because the business name of the club was Spoonful Productions) and all my expectations were met. There are some boots out there of them together. I think I may have one.

    Another fine memory is of seeing the post-Al Edison Records (where they released 5 or 6 CDs on a label that mimics the earliest lateral groove Edison 78s) era Q at Milestones (which took over rrom The Red Creek as the hippest club in town in the 90s) in Rochester when they opened with of all things ‘White Horse’ by Laid Back, a onoe-off turnatble dance hit from the 80s that ruled my Dj days for a time. I was TOTALLY unprepared for their take on the song, which swomehow made a NYC disco classwic into a rockin’ almost Rockabilly groove.

    I’ve seen some video of the NEW NRBQ led by Terry Adams with an all new line up, but have yet to see them live. The Spampinato Brothers continue to appear locally and in many ways seem to be carrying on the spirit just a little more. I miss Tom, who passed last year. We used to share our love of ‘Poem-Song’ music (those ‘send us your lyrics and we’ll make a record out of it’ that featured unsung genius Rodd Keith. Tom Ardolino was a master collector (as ALL of the Q seemed to be, or at least unaccredited master music historians) and I wish I had been able to see his last group Baby Macaroni.

    • Willard
      February 8, 2013 - 11:35 | Permalink

      So why did you ever leave this era?

  • Parasthetic Muumuu
    February 7, 2013 - 14:39 | Permalink

    They re-discovered THE SHAGGS and for that, we outsider music lovers will always be grateful. They also know how to rock, as so few bands do now. Thanks.

  • sluggo
    February 8, 2013 - 09:52 | Permalink

    I can`t believe that the first lp has never been released on cd..a crime..
    I have played my way through three copies and it is getting pretty hard to find.

    this was my introduction to Sun Ra by way of the Q`s great version of Rocket
    Number Nine I also have to highly recommend any of Steve Fergusons cds..Mama-u-seapa and derby sauce..WOW!
    thanks willard..yer a good man..

  • Ken
    February 8, 2013 - 12:37 | Permalink

    The New NRBQ is alive and well. Check out “NRBQ in FULL HD” on YouTube for some great pro-shot clips. Recently someone also posted an audience shot video of the complete Bearsville NY 1/20/2013 show.

    Austin TX tonight (Feb 8) and Houston tomorrow (Feb 9) if anyone is in that area – not to be missed.

  • February 8, 2013 - 13:34 | Permalink

    Much thanks for posting this. You know, for years, I’ve heard various comments from people saying how great they are, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually heard anything by them. So, this will be great to hear. Any others have recommendations of what is their best stuff? From the comments so far, it would seem that it is their live act they are most known for. Any great bootleg live shows that can be shared?

  • sluggo
    February 8, 2013 - 14:17 | Permalink

    there a shitload of q over at sugarmegs

  • KDNYfm
    February 8, 2013 - 17:12 | Permalink

    Saw the Spampinatos version of the Q at the Calgary Folk Fest several years ago. There was a helluva storm just before Blackie & the Rodeo Kings set just before NRBQ. BARK played a great set but than most of the crowd dispersed, and there was only a handful of us left to enjoy the Q, but they played like there were 100,000 there. What a great show…just wish I’d had a chance to see them with Big Al, hell even to see Big Al on his own would be great.
    I quite like Message for the Mess Age myself…


  • miles
    February 9, 2013 - 16:31 | Permalink

    NRBQ in my estimation, were/are the greatest band to ever emerge from this vast melting pot we call the United States of America. To hell with the Grateful Dead, the Doors, VU, or the Allman Brothers. None of them could hold a candle to the ‘Q.’ They were/are a uniquely American band that epitomized absolutely everything good about rock n’ roll, and modern music in general. Besides chops, an encyclopedic understanding of music, and a gifted sense of humor, NRBQ held/holds the most rarified of ingredients — magic. Even though it was written well before the groups formation, I’m still convinced that John Sebastian somehow had the ‘Q’ in mind when he recorded, ‘Do You Believe In Magic?’. Check it out and see if you agree.

    I might also recommend, ‘At Yankee Stadium’ if you like this one above. Despite the band’s power as a live entity, oddly these are both studio recordings. Personally I’m floored by their studio work. Without the kinetic energy of a live setting, the studio records really demonstrate just how polished and disciplined the band were/are. But when on stage, the floodgates are set to ‘wide open’ for spontaneity and the results are often explosive. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen NRBQ on stage, but I’ve always walked away with a refreshed outlook on life. God bless ’em! Of course it takes mega-chops to pull off what they do on stage as well. It may sometimes sound loose and reckless (what the untrained ear would call sloppy), but in actuality it’s anything but. It takes a pro to pull off that kind of musical mayhem. Listen closely and you’ll realize in fact, they’re very, very tight.

    Unfortunately, their live recordings never really capture the true excitement. What ‘live’ record ever has? You just can’t take a 3 dimensional experience and siphon it down to a singular one. The only exception I might consider is Ellington’s, ‘Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue’ from ‘Ellington At Newport. Here was a performance that was so strong, so powerful that the needle practically jumps out of the grooves! Upon its conclusion, the crowd goes absolutely ape-shit. Pandemonium ensues. Many women reportedly passed out, while apparently others accidentally peed their pants. One woman I’m told went into premature labor giving birth to a 6 pound baby boy right there in the 7th row! Men meanwhile are said to have fallen to their knees, sobbing over the liberation they felt in the afterglow. Reportedly, many then ran to the phones where they called the office and said, “Fuck that shit! I’ve transcended! I’ll empty out my desk whenever I get around to it. I’m gone!”

    Seeing NRBQ was often like that.

  • February 9, 2013 - 16:34 | Permalink

    This one and Yankee Stadium (which has the best cover) are just about perfect records. God save the Q.

  • sluggo
    February 9, 2013 - 16:43 | Permalink

    please won`t someone release their first lp on cd.preferably with unreleased bonus tracks..I recommend live at Ludlows Garage from 1970 if you can find was released on Sundazed dics..a great set from the original lineup!

  • sluggo
    February 9, 2013 - 16:47 | Permalink

    To hell with the Grateful Dead, the Doors, VU, or the Allman Brothers

    I will agree with you about the first three for sure. Highly overated noodlers[the deaD] a narcissistic elephantine ego sized self proclaimed poet with a death wish [doors] and the idiotic, drug numb underground, queens of the two and three chord shite…but NOT the ALLMANS man, those cats could blow…

  • miles
    February 9, 2013 - 20:38 | Permalink


    True. I saw the Allmans at the 1st or 2nd Atlanta Pop Festival where they ruled the second stage, and I must admit that I was pretty damned impressed. But this was just before they broke big time, and they still had Duane and Berry Oakley. Back then, they had sufficient reason and talent to stretch out. But after their deaths, their replacements continued taking 88 bar solos to convey what could’ve easily been said in a mere 8. Just my opinion.

  • Willard
    February 11, 2013 - 16:19 | Permalink

    Thanks to all for the comments. My apologies for lying low the past week or so.

  • February 12, 2013 - 16:15 | Permalink

    What a great album! Thanks for posting this.

  • MrBill
    October 4, 2014 - 21:39 | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this. Just like you, this was a car tape for me too. Now to put it on CD!

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