The NoBS Re-release “The NoBS Live, 1981”
It’s not often that I get a record to review that is decades old. In this modern era of singles and short attention span, it’s refreshing to sit back and really listen to a couple of songs that have withstood the test of time. The NoBS, a classic rock/blues rock band that hails from California, have released a whopper of a live album, The NoBS Live 1981. Featuring 25 tracks from a Davis, California, gig the same year that “Start Me Up” (The Rolling Stones), “Freeze Frame” (The J. Geils Band) and “Working For The Weekend” (Loverboy) were competing against New Wave and synthesizer hits, The NoBS stayed true to the blues mold and recorded “Wait On Time” the equally fast-paced “Further Up On The Road”. The NoBS, made up of David, Brad and Scott, have a supercharged sound that hits all the right spots.
Well you say you’ll stick with me baby, stick with me through thick and thin, I know someday baby, my bad luck has got to end, David sings in “Wait On Time”. A cover of the 1979 song from The Fabulous Thunderbirds, a full seven years before The Fabulous Thunderbirds released their highest charted song “Tuff Enuff”. What I can glean from that, looking through the lens of 2021 of course, is that like The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The NoBS heard something in “Wait On Time” that captured their own spirit. I think there’s a kinship with these bands’ stories and background. It’s a grit, a whole lot of elbow grease that goes into the workings of this song. Lead guitarist Brad’s work shapes up to me one of immense intensity and bravado. I think the passion unfolds with each riff. Dave’s voice is scratchy, a bit growly. The rhythm in the song is fast and loose. This is the song that gets the crowd hopping and the bartender pouring more drinks. You can absolutely feel the presence of the live audience in this recording.
“Further Up On The Road” also has that fantastic drum backbeat. These two tracks complement each other very well. I suppose if you were listening to them out-of-order and found your playlist interchanging them, you might think they continuation. They have very distinctly different lyrics, but what The NoBS never lack is the integrity of the blues. They give it their all in these songs and it almost feels effortless. If these two tracks were alcoholic drinks, they would both be double-shots of whiskey. Smooth and just the right amount of biting guitar riffs. The heart gets a pumping and the throat feels a little raspy – it’s time to add another! This is going to be a long night of music.
Overall, I highly recommend The NoBS. I would also encourage listeners to check out the full album – I really enjoyed “Route 66”, “Shake” and “The Crawl”. With so many tracks, there is plenty to live and I felt like I was listening to a concert in my living room. I’m quite impressed how these songs still sound so fresh 40 years later. I’m also impressed that a California band, with the influence of surf rock, the Laurel Canyon sound and more comes across like a Chicago-blues band. They make it work.