Terry Adams & Steve Ferguson – Louisville Sluggers (review)

Terry Adams & Steve Ferguson – Louisville Sluggers (Omnivore)

Two founding members of the Q, having a good time

It’s been a long, strange trip for NRBQ.  Known for their stylistic schizophrenia, both on record and in concert, the band is capable of doing just about any genre of music.  But, it all started with two Louisville natives, Terry Adams and Steve Ferguson over 50 years ago.  Ferguson only lasted two albums before exiting, but continued to stay near, showing up at gigs from time to time.  Louisville Sluggers, originally issued in 2006, finds the two rekindling their musical partnership.  This new reissue features bonus tracks and extended liner notes from Terry Adams’ brother, Donn, who also provides horns on the album.

Leading off with a swinging version of the Stan Kenton instrumental, “Peanut Vendor,” things immediately veer into the rockabilly of “Outer Space Boogie,” then the jazzy “Same Train.” This is just the kind of diversity that we’ve come to expect from five decades of NRBQ.  

No Q-related album would be complete without some weirdness, and the Texas shuffle of “Ichabod,” complete with marimba and harpsichord, and a killer Ferguson guitar solo, fits the bill.  Honestly, it sounds more like a theme to a Munsters-type TV show.  Things take another sharp turn with a Dixieland treatment of “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” then an after-hours reading of the doo wop standard, “It’s Too Soon to Know.”  

Particularly nice is their cover of the Tommy Tucker nugget, “Hi Heel Sneakers”; I really dig Adams’ organ sound here as he solos, then Ferguson takes a turn.  The feeling is very relaxed – just two old friends having a conversation.  As if things couldn’t get any more out there, the pair tackles “Blue Monk,” a jazz standard, before closing things with a goofy version of “Hey Good Lookin.”

The bonus tracks are good fun as well: the Al Hirt instrumental, “Java,” becomes a showcase for Ferguson, while the bluegrass traditional, “Turkey in the Straw” shows off Adams on piano.  Then, there’s “Duet For Cousins,” which sounds like carnival music.

In Donn Adams’ essay, which accompanies this album, he admits that there were “no producers, no time constraints, no budget concerns, just Terry and Steve and friends.  It’s just the right thing.”  I agree.  —Tony Peters