Sunday, April 17, 2016

NRBQ - RC Cola and a Moon Pie (1986)

What do you call a reissue album that's not quite a reissue? You call it RC Cola and a Moon Pie, which is the title of a 1986 NRBQ album that served as a "sort of" re-release of the band's hard-to-find 1973* album Workshop. It's "sort of" a re-release because it's not as cut-and-dried as just being Workshop with a new title and re-arranged song order.

While RC Cola and a Moon Pie did offer eight of the twelve songs from Workshop, not all of them are exactly the way you find them on Workshop. The album also omits four songs from Workshop and replaces them with four others: Two outtakes, a single, and a song from 1972's Scraps given a makeover. Add 'em all together and there are seven songs and/or mixes specific to this LP, which has never come out on CD. Because of that, I decided  rip it (or is the correct phrase "recorded it") from my own pristine vinyl copy.

Here's a rundown of each song on RC Cola and a Moon Pie, that explains what's old and what was on Workshop and what's new:

  • "Mona" and "RC Cola and a Moon Pie" -- Same as Workshop versions. By the way, despite the familiar titles, these are originals. "Mona" isn't the Bo Diddley number, but one by 'Q bassist Joey Spampinato, while "RC Cola" isn't the old Big Bill Lester tune, but one penned by keyboardist Terry Adams.
  • "C'mon If You're Comin'" -- Same as on Workshop but with the drum intro edited out. This is the Al Anderson-sung version, not to be confused with the acoustic rendition NRBQ did of this song on their first LP.
  • "Ratch-I-Tatch" -- A Terry Adams outtake new to this release. It features a jazzy shuffle and lots of Whole Wheat Horns. (If you have to ask "What are 'Whole Wheat Horns?'" you're in the wrong place!)
  •  "Deaf, Dumb and Blind" -- The Spampinato song from Workshop, but presented on this album in a remixed form. It also runs at a slightly faster speed.
  • "Louisville" -- A short Adams instrumental that's new to this release.
  • "Sourpuss" -- Not on Workshop. This is a song by the band's original guitarist, the late Steve Ferguson. It's from a super-rare non-LP 45 the band put out on the Select-O-Hit label after Kama Sutra Records dropped them (Fergie had briefly rejoined at this point). Its B-Side was a song called "Rumors" that remains non-LP because it's unfortunately not included here. This single has been called the "Holy Grail" for 'Q collectors. Does anyone have it and want to do a rip of the B-Side?
  • "Miss Moses" and "I Got a Little Secret" -- Same as on Workshop.
  • "Get That Gasoline Blues" -- From Workshop, but with Adams' final spoken-word line edited out: "Hey, Bud -- could you check the oil?" This always sounded to me like it was inspired by Nervous Norvus' closing line in "Transfusion." Wonder why they removed it? Or did I just answer my own question -- haha? And by the way, this is a different version than the one NRBQ would release as a single in 1974, which became their only Hot 100 hit, climbing to #70 in 1974. (If anyone wants to be a stickler about such matters, though, they also hit the Bubbling Under chart with "Stomp," which got to #122 in 1969).
  • "Don't Knock at My Door" -- This Spampinato number is not exactly from Scraps, as the back on this release states. This is a remixed version that's sped up slightly. But more importantly, the lead vocal by original singer Frank Gadler has been replaced by a new one by Joey Spampinato.
  • "Four Million B.C." -- Same as on Workshop, where it's also the closing track.

The question then becomes, what about the four songs from Workshop they left off? Three were covers: "Blues Stay Away From Me" (originally by the country act Delmore Brothers); "Just to Hold My Hand" (a Top 30 hit in '57 for Clyde McPhatter), and the do wop classic "Hearts of Stone" (originally by the Jewels, but a bigger hit for the Charms and the Fontaine Sisters).

The fourth missing song is  Adams' pensive, jazzy "Misunderstanding," which seems to be about dissatisfaction with what the modern world has become and is one of the best things the band ever did. It's easy to see why the group would replace cover songs with originals, but why replace "Misunderstanding" with something as lightweight as "Ratch-I-Tatch?" Then again, if it made sense and was all neat and logical, it wouldn't NRBQ, a band that pretty much defined eccentricity.

Track list:
1. Mona
2. RC Cola And A Moon Pie
3. C'mon If You're Comin'
4. Ratch-I-Tatch
5. Deaf, Dumb And Blind
6. Louisville
7. Sourpuss
8. Miss Moses
9. I Got A Little Secret
10. Get That Gasoline Blues
11. Don't Knock At My Door
12. Four Million B.C.

* I've seen Workshop listed online as being from 1972 and 1973. The back cover of RC Cola states the recording sessions were from mid- to late-1972, so it might seem logical the LP came out in late '72. But I'm going with a 1973 release date because the album is reviewed in the March 24, 1973 issue of Billboard (look under "Also Recommended") and it's doubtful they'd wait three months to review an LP.


  1. I am really looking forward to this! Thanks Netizen! Peace.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous! I owe you a beer!