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NRBQ - You're Nice People You Are

Classic Kids' Album from a Classic Rock and Roll Combo

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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nrbq kids music

NRBQ - You're Nice People You Are

Courtesy New Rounder
Many bands and performers who made it big in the grownup music world have tried their hand at making an album of children's songs. Some have been adequately tolerable, many more have been horribley embarrassing missteps. A very few have been shining jewels, kids' albums that have stood the test of time and almost defy musical genres. Along with Nilsson's The Point, NRBQ's You're Nice People You Are is an unmitigated classic in the world of kids' music.

The Band

NRBQ have been around for a long, long time. The New Rhythm and Blues Quartet first got together in 1967, and released their debut album, NRBQ, on the Columbia Records label in 1969. Many personnel changes have taken place over the years, but their best-known and most consistent lineup consisted of Terry Adams on piano, Al Anderson on guitar, Tom Ardolino on drums, and Joey Spampinato on bass. You're Nice People You Are, originally released in 1997 on the Rounder Records label, featured the lineup of Terry Adams, Tom Ardolino, Joey Spampinato, and Johnny Spampinato, who replaced Al Anderson in 1994.

The Music of 'You're Nice People You Are'

You're Nice People You Are kicks off with the title tune, a sort of musical greeting on par with Bob Dylan's rowdy beginning to his album Blonde on Blonde, "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35." The Turtles would have killed to performed a song as cool and catchy as "Encyclopedia," a tune that should, no doubt, thrill every librarian and elementary school teacher in the country. The jaunty, super sweet "Always Safety First" would be right at home on a Mister Rogers episode, while "The Music Lesson" is a silly exercise in musical scales. The unique "There's a Girl, There's a Boy" is at some points tender, at other points trippy, and at all points full of harmonies; while the jaunty, jazzy instrumental "Next Stop Brattleboro" would make a great addition to a movie soundtrack.

More Music from 'You're Nice People You Are'

You would be hard pressed to find a pop song more adorable and catchy than the sweet, superb "Spider;" and the clippety clop of "Keep Lookin' for Tumbleweeds, Danny" is a great little wild west tale. The pretty "It's St' Patrick's Day" tips a hat to that March 17 holiday, while "We're Walking" celebrates getting places on foot with yet another top notch pop tune that sounds like a cross between Carole King and Badfinger. The loping "Plenty of Somethin'" uses ascending scales to create a Schoolhouse Rock-sounding tune, and the album closes with another round of "You're Nice People You Are (Reprise)," followed by the mostly acoustic "Sleep," a beautiful tune full of double tracked voices and quietly picked guitars that perfectly ends You're Nice People You Are.

The Verdict

NRBQ's You're Nice People You Are is right up there with Harry Nilsson's The Point! and Barenaked Ladies' Snacktime! when it comes to pop bands venturing into the kids' music realm. The album is an often overlooked treat, but fortunately You're Nice People You Are was released in mp3 form on March 27, 2012 on the New Rounder label.

Released July 8, 1997; Rounder Records

Track Listing

  1. "You're Nice People You Are"
  2. "Encyclopedia"
  3. "Always Safety First"
  4. "The Music Lesson"
  5. "There's a Girl, There's a Boy"
  6. "Next Stop Brattleboro"
  7. "Spider"
  8. "Keep Lookin' for Tumbleweeds, Danny"
  9. "It's St' Patrick's Day"
  10. "We're Walking"
  11. "Plenty of Somethin'"
  12. "You're Nice People You Are (Reprise)"
  13. "Sleep"
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