Don’t be blinded by the outstanding collection of star power appearing on this timely release. Focus in on the subject matter – a celebration of all things Joey Spampinato. It’s a demonstration of appreciation and respect for this underrated talent to help NRBQ bassist, singer/songwriter and co-founder raise much-needed funds for his ongoing battle with throat cancer. It’s also a celebration of Spampinato’s overriding joie de vivre, his songwriting gifts, the rhythmic swing of his approach to his instrument and his spirited vocals. You’ll find each of these Spampinato-penned songs in NRBQ’s vast back catalogue and, if nothing else, may these fresh renderings of this material lead you back to the source for added musical inspiration and a better understanding of why these artists have come forward to pay heartfelt tribute. If you attend any party, you need to know who it’s for.

When the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (NRBQ) first came together in ’65, releasing their self-titled debut in ’69, a lot of people took notice for a wealth of good reasons. However, their rather spontaneous, genre-defying amalgam of rock, country, blues, pop, jazz and rockabilly confused as many as it hooked. And this was 50 years ago. So, it’s of little surprise that Keith Richard’s first choice for bassist in his filmed, 60th Birthday Party for Chuck Berry has attracted such an eclectic mix of artists wanting to be involved. With far too many names to drop, highlights include Los Lobos’ energized cover of God Bless Us All’s “Every Boy, Every Girl” while Steve Forbert offers a lovely, lower-keyed presentation of Tiddly Winks’ love song, “Beverly”. Likewise, Peter Case injects his full charm in his reinterpretation of Scraps’ “Don’t Knock at my Door” while, for those looking for harder-hitting performances, cue Bonnie Raitt’s familiar-sounding cover of “Green Lights” from At Yankee Stadium or the Richards-Harper-Musselwhite-Tench-Was-Heffington remake of Wild Weekend’s “Like A Locomotive”. Consider, too, Robbie Fulks’ animated, old-school cover of Kick Me Hard’s “Chores” – humour intact. Something for everybody and as much as expected, this is a party and it’s all for Joey Spampinato, who more than deserves this tribute to his talented contributions to the creative process and his track record of giving it all. Here’s hoping this party also adds the gift of helping to bring him a longer life on his terms. (Eric Thom)