Label from NRBQ's "Get That Gasoline Blues" single.
NRBQ was formed in 1967 in Miami, Florida from the remnants of several other bands. The original lineup was composed of Frank Gadler (vocals), Steve Ferguson (guitars), Joe Spampinato (bass guitar), Terry Adams (keyboards), and Tom Staley (drums). The acronym “NRBQ” apparently stood for “New Rhythm and Blues Quintet” (later to become “New Rhythm and Blues Quartet”. NRBQ was somewhat unusual in that all five members sang lead vocals at various times. They relocated to the northeastern U.S. and began to build a following. They were signed by Columbia Records and released their eponymous debut album in 1969. The following year, they collaborated with rockabilly legend Carl Perkins on the LP “Boppin’ The Blues” (1970). However, Columbia Records dropped NRBQ from its roster due to low sales. Between the release of the second and third album, Gadler and Ferguson and Staley would leave the band, to be replaced by Al Anderson (guitars, vocals). The lineup of Anderson/Spampinato/Adams/Staley would record “Scraps”, their third album (and first with new label Kama Sutra). This was the same lineup that recorded “Workshop”, NRBQ’s fourth album, and the one that spawned today’s featured single “Get That Gasoline Blues” b/w “Mona”.
“Get That Gasoline Blues” turned out to be NRBQ’s biggest (and only) chart hit to date, peaking at #70 on the Billboard singles chart in 1974. It might seem a bit odd that this was their biggest hit; over the years they have released many great songs. Nevertheless, their one hit is a novelty rave-up blues tune written by Terry Adams and C. Craig. What we get is a very simple chord progression similar to other blues songs, along with Anderson’s chorus of: “Get that gasoline/Get that gasoline/Get that gasoline/Oh, get that gasoline/Baby, your rest rooms sure are clean”. The sound is augmented by a horn section, presumably consisting of Keith Spring (saxophone) and Donn Adams (trombone) – Terry Adams’ older brother. The result is something that is quite unlike an other pop or rock record. The production is state-of-the-art (or at least state-of-the-art for 1973), but the song sounds as if it could have been released in the 1940’s. But even if the music seems almost like a by-product of the big band era, the lyrical content seems unusually prescient: “I’d like to see you Jane/But my car ain’t got no fuel/(Ain’t got, got no gas)/You know I tried to come over last night/But I ain’t got no fuel/(Ain’t got, got no gas)/You know the way things is goin’/I might as well get me a mule/(Get me an ass)” [I’ll disregard Terry Adams’ “Forty cents a gallon!” aside from the chorus following that verse.]
The B-side of the single, “Mona”, is a Joey Spampinato-penned acoustic ballad. The entire musical accompaniment consists of two acoustic guitars and, appearing about 1 minute and 9 seconds into the track, an accordion. The accordion compliments the sound well without compromising the minimalist feel of the track, playing the same melody as the lead guitar. Even the lyrics have an unusual economical feel: “Mona/Mona/Don’t worry/No, don’t worry/Because you’re not alone/Anymore/Don’t you worry”. Although the track has a Spartan feel to it, there are some interesting chord changes here, especially the bass parts. Spampinato would later refine his songwriting and write even more compelling ballads; still “Mona” definitely ranks as a lost classic.The single (catalog #: KA-586) was issued by Kama Sutra records; there was no picture sleeve. Note that the label has been completely redesigned since the 1960’s. [I previously featured KA-219, The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Nashville Cats”, in this blog, and that single had the Kama Sutra label with a logo featuring three guys, with two of them waving their arms.] This label features an image of Adam and Eve (with Adam accepting the apple) across the top, and the track/artist information across the bottom. The song length is on the left side and catalog number is on the right side. Kama Sutra Records would cease to exist in 1976, although it would re-emerge in 1982 as Sutra Records. As a result, NRBQ once again switched labels to Rounder Records (which distributed the NRBQ vanity label Red Rooster Records). Although NRBQ would never again have a hit single (although they came close with “Ridin’ In My Car” in 1977), their musicianship and wacky sense of humor has endeared them to generations of fans.External links:
Another blog posting on “Get That Gasoline Blues” b/w “Mona”.
There are no YouTube links directly relevant to this single. But how about:
NRBQ blowing up a New Kids On The Block album
NRBQ perform I Got A Rocket In My Pocket