304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
If you aren’t familiar with the name Joey Spampinato, he is a bass player and founding member of the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (and/or quintet dependent on the lineup), better known as NRBQ. Along with keyboard man, Terry Adams, Joey began a career with this refreshing and eclectic band back in 1967…although I didn’t come across them until 1977 when the blues, rock, pop, jazz, rock ’n’ roll and a lot of other influences gelled brilliantly on All Hopped Up. If you feel inclined to seek it out, listen for the fun that weaves it way through songs such as Ridin’ In My Car, Still in School, and original interpretations of Honey Hush and Bonanza.
No doubt you’re also asking: Who is Sweet Relief? They are a charitable organisation whose mission is “Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. In other words, Healing Musicians in Need. We all have received so much out of music, it’s time to give a little back!”
That is a goal that cannot be argued with and to see more of their work, visit www.sweetrelief.org They are US based and so taking part in some of their auctions would be challenging to say the least…I would have loved the Tesla Model S or the Jack Daniels branded hi-fi, but the shipping costs would have been astronomical so, just keep an eye for releases such as this and you will be helping too.
Joey’s bass style was distinctive as he managed to make it sound more like an upright bass whilst maintaining the bite and volume of an electric bass. So much was his style admired that he guested on numerous albums with the likes of Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt, and his compositional skills is reflected in the artists that chose to cover his songs: Bonnie Raitt, Shakin’ Stevens, Los Lobos, Dave Edmunds and quite a few others. The NRBQ band also featured on a lot of The Simpsons episodes as a kind of house band and their music was used on multiple US TV shows…quite a CV.
Joey is now battling cancer, hence the release of this album where some stellar figures were quick to sign up to do their choice of Joey penned songs including Ben Harper, Keith Richards, Charlie Musselwhite, Benmonth Tench, Don Was, Bonnie Raitt, Jim Lauderdale. Los Lobos, Chris Spedding, Penn and Teller and many more. All of them were delighted to contribute their skills and generously donated their proceeds from these previously unreleased recordings to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to support Joey and other struggling musicians.
I won’t dissect all fourteen but, suffice it to say, they all have merit and all are thoroughly enjoyable: my highlights have to be the slide guitar beauty that Bonnie Raitt always brings to a song. On Green Lights (a song she has covered before) she teams up with the current NRBQ, and adds her vocal nuances to a great song: a rock ’n’ roll feel-good song that has an infectious bounce and a simply superb slide solo. Anything featuring Keith Richards, never mind Charlie Musselwhite, Ben Harper and Don Was amongst others also demands attention: more rock ’n’ roll with a deeper country blues behind it and immaculate playing is more than worthy.
After a cacophonous intro, The Minus 5 (a band featuring former REM man, Peter Buck) turn in a 60s flavoured turn on the very well interpreted Don’t She Look Good. She & Him (a duo made up of actor Zooey Deschanel and guitarist/producer Matt Ward) do a Beach Boys meets Dusty Springfield in an entrancing way on How Can I Make You Love Me…it’s steeped in modern nostalgia and really quite beautiful.
The surprise inclusion is probably the magician duo of Penn And Teller, known more for TV extravaganzas than music, and at first, listen it’s clear why! And yet, after a couple of listens their Marx Brothers approach to Plenty Of Somethin’ has a charm…and the upright bass and piano backing are great.
In all honesty, there are a couple I will always skip but, on the whole, this is a great album with some brilliant songs and it also has the bonus of benefitting a very, very worthwhile cause and is a canny investment.
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen for the diverse and fascinating readings of NRBQ and Joey’s legacy with the added befit of contributing to the Sweet Relief cause.
Artists and Track Listing:
1. Al Anderson – You Can’t Hide
2. Los Lobos – Every Boy, Every Girl
3. Deer Tick – That I Get Back Home
4. Ben Harper with Keith Richards, Charlie Musselwhite, Benmont Tench, Don Was, & Don Heffington – Like A Locomotive
5. Peter Case – Don’t Knock At My Door
6. She & Him – How Can I Make You Love Me
7. The Minus 5 – Don’t She Look Good
8. Steve Forbert – Beverly
9. Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale – How Will I Know
10. Bonnie Raitt & NRBQ – Green Lights
11. Robbie Fulks – Chores
12. Penn And Teller – Plenty of Something
13. The Nils & Chris Spedding – That’s Alright
14. Kami Lyle with Joey – First Crush
(In amongst the many and varied Various Artists albums I own, iTunes decided to serve up some Classic Rock Salute to The Doors which included some great artists (some no longer with us: Ken Hensley, Leslie West, Keith Emerson) and many who are: Graham Bonnet, Ian Gillan, PatTravers, Rick Wakeman, Mick Box and son on. I went with the brilliant Roadhouse Blues with Leslie West’s unique guitar attack and vocals…lovely.)