Thursday, April 13, 2017

The J.Geils Band - 1975 - Hotline

The J.Geils Band 

01. Love-itis 4:40
02. Easy Way Out 4:06
03. Think It Over 4:41
04. Be Careful (What You Do) 4:06
05. Jealous Love 4:10
06. Mean Love 5:06
07. Orange Driver 4:29
08. Believe In Me 4:44
09. Fancy Footwork 5:26

Bass – Daniel Klein
Guitar – J. Geils, Juke Joint Jimmy (tracks: A4)
Harmonica – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Percussion, Vocals – Stephen Jo Bladd
Vocals – Peter Wolf

The J. Geils Band's sixth studio album, 1975's Hotline, didn't spawn any hits, didn't reach very high on the charts, and was very true to the band's formula (going back to a mix of originals and covers after two all-original albums). It is also one of their most cohesive, satisfying, and fun albums. Kicking off with one of their live favorites, a barn-burning cover of Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds' obscure soul nugget "Love-Itis," the disc runs through hard-edged blues, funky soul, rip-roaring rock & roll, and a ballad or two. The bandmembers show no signs of letting down and sound as dedicated to their house-party ethic as ever. Along with "Love-Itis," at least half of the record would have sounded excellent blasting from AOR stations. Why none of them, like the driving "Easy Way Out," the peppy "Jealous Love," and the cold as ice "Mean Love," never got much airplay is a mystery. Elsewhere, the band shows nice restraint on the heartbroken ballad "Think It Over," exhibits blazing blues chops on John Brim's "Be Careful (What You Do)" and Eddie Burns' "Orange Driver," and get very funky on "Fancy Footwork." The one song that sounds like their hearts aren't all the way in it, the cover of the Impressions' "Believe In Me," is still a rollicking good time. This is one of the overlooked gems in the band's catalog, not as strong as their best work but certainly worth many listens.

The J.Geils Band - 1974 - Nightmares (...And Other Tales From The Vinyl Jungle)

The J.Geils Band 
Nightmares (...And Other Tales From The Vinyl Jungle)

01. Detroit Breakdown 6:00
02. Givin' It All Up 3:43
03. Must Of Got Lost 5:04
04. Look Me In The Eye 3:57
05. Nightmares 1:14
06. Stoop Down #39 6:50
07. I'll Be Coming Home 4:30
08. Funky Judge 3:15
09. Gettin' Out 5:46

Bass – Daniel Klein
Guitar, Mandolin – J. Geils
Harmonica [Marine Band, Chromatic, Bass, Chord] – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Percussion, Vocals – Stephen Jo Bladd
Vocals – Peter Wolf

Nightmares...and Other Tales From the Vinyl Jungle spawned the biggest Atlantic hit for the J. Geils Band, the wonderfully obsessive, questioning dilemma titled "Must of Got Lost." Here the Geils Band are at the peak of their powers in the days prior to Freeze Frame and lustful songs like "Centerfold," "Must of Got Lost" being the only of their three Atlantic Top 40 hits to land in the Top 15. Seth Justman and Peter Wolf share all the songwriting credits here, save the intriguing camp/funk of the Andre Williams/Leo Hutton composition "Funky Judge." It's Peter Wolf's pantomime vocal entwined with the band's serious blues that creates something very special. The final track, "Gettin' Out," is five-minutes-plus of this intense, earthy rock, producer Bill Szymczyk capturing in the studio that energy the band generated in concert. Bassist Danny Klein told AMG he loved the Jean Lagarrigue drawing on the album jacket, noting, "Wolf found the hand painting...(it) got in a best rock album cover art book." This was a natural progression from 1973's Ladies Invited, the band's arrangements working perfectly with Szymczyk's production, with "Detroit Breakdown" being a tip of the hat to the group's second home outside of Boston. Magic Dick makes a great statement over Seth Justman's foundation piano sound, one that evolves from that instrument to organ, giving J. Geils a chance to throw some haunting guitar work over its conclusion. The song's six-minute length is topped only by the nearly seven minutes of "Stoop Down #39," perhaps a dig at the James Gang's "Funk #49" from four years prior. "Givin' It All Up" and "Look Me in the Eye" are the band showing precision in their craft, releasing quite a bit of music between 1973's popular "Give It to Me," the Ladies Invited album that same year, and this solid effort. The short, one-minute-14-second title track, "Nightmares," sounds like an ode to nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and probably was. The album produces one of the effects of that drug: exhilaration, and is a fine example of their creative musical journey.

The J.Geils Band - 1973 - Ladies Invited

The J.Geils Band 
Ladies Invited

01. Did You No Wrong 4:08
02. I Can't Go On 5:05
03. Lay Your Good Thing Down 4:36
04. That's Why I'm Thinking Of You 3:14
05. No Doubt About It 3:50
06. The Lady Makes Demands 4:22
07. My Baby Don't Love Me 3:43
08. Diddyboppin' 3:32
09. Take A Chance (On Romance) 3:41
10. Chimes 5:05

Bass – Daniel Klein
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica [Harp] – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Percussion, Vocals – Stephen Jo Bladd
Vocals – Peter Wolf

Reflective foil outer sleeve with custom (artwork) inner
Recorded at The Hit Factory, N.Y.C.

The J. Geils Band were coming off their biggest album yet (Bloodshot, which hit the Top Ten on the Billboard album charts) when Ladies Invited appeared in 1973. It didn't reach the same level of sale (peaking at number 51) and none of the songs became AOR staples. Despite this, the record is solidly entertaining Geils, full of jumping party tunes and heart-punching ballads all composed by the band itself. As usual the up-tempo songs are the best: "Did You No Wrong" is a dynamic rocker with some blistering J. Geils guitar work, "I Can't Go On" is a full-out funky jam, and "Lay Your Good Thing Down" is fine blue-eyed soul with slick hipster vocals from Peter Wolf. The ballads here show a level of emotion and commitment that you might not expect: "My Baby Don't Love Me" is a countrified, tear-in-my-beer weeper with aching harmony vocals from Seth Justman, "Chimes" is an atmospheric, paranoid tune with great dynamics and a vocal from Wolf that veers between intimate and over-the-top howling, and probably best of all is the laid-back, Stonesy "That's Why I'm Thinking of You." It is really a shock that none of these songs caught on with AOR programmers. The only one that got a few spins was "No Doubt About It," and it is the album's highlight, a low-down and nasty blues rocker featuring the one and only Magic Dick getting down on his lickin' stick. That and stuff like the driving "Take a Chance (On Romance)" and the corny but fun "Diddyboppin'" should have been blasting out of radios up and down the strip, in high-school parking lots, and on the beach -- basically everywhere AOR sounds the best. Don't let anyone tell you that Ladies Invited is one of Geils' lesser works. It is just one of the band's overlooked works that deserve a second listen.

The J.Geils Band - 1973 - Bloodshot

The J.Geils Band

01. (Ain't Nothin' But A) House Party 4:43
02. Make Up Your Mind 3:31
03. Back To Get Ya 5:22
04. Struttin' With My Baby 3:16
05. Don't Try To Hide 2:35
06. Southside Shuffle 3:43
07. Hold Your Loving 2:30
08. Start All Over Again 4:15
09. Give It To Me 6:32

Bass – Daniel Klein
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica [Harp] – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Percussion, Vocals – Stephen Jo Bladd
Vocals – Peter Wolf

Bloodshot is the J. Geils Band's third studio album and their first Top Ten (and last until 1982's smash Freeze Frame). The band sounds tighter, meaner, and funkier than on their first two releases, frontman Peter Wolf is looser and wilder than ever, and J. Geils positively rips things up on guitar. This newfound power could be down to the band blanketing the country and honing their craft in sweaty bars and concert halls. The positive response to their raw and alive live album Full House may have helped too. Whatever the cause, Bloodshot fairly jumps through the speakers on flat-out rockers like their cover of obscure soul stomper "(Ain't Nothin But A) Houseparty," the lean and nasty "Back to Get Ya" (which features a classic Wolf aside, "Scramble my eggs, honey!"), and concert fave "Southside Shuffle." The band also shows their range with hokey but fun blues shuffle "Struttin' with My Baby," bopping jump blues ("Hold Your Loving"), and very convincing heartbroken balladry ("Start All Over Again"). The band also delivers their first self-penned classic, the reggae-influenced "Give It to Me," which starts off as a tight and tough reggae-influenced pop song and spreads out into a funky jam that equals anything similar the Stones ever attempted. Along with it being a hit, Bloodshot is the first Geils album to stake a claim on the major leagues of rock & roll.

The J.Geils Band - 1972 - Full House

The J.Geils Band 
Full House

01. First I Look At The Purse 3:56
02. Homework 2:34
03. Pack Fair And Square 1:41
04. Whammer Jammer 2:21
05. Hard Drivin' Man 4:23
06. Serves You Right To Suffer 9:32
07. Cruisin' For A Love 3:32
08. Looking For Love 4:55

Bass – Daniel Klein
Drums, Vocals – Stephen Jo. Bladd
Guitar – J. Geils
Harp – Magic Dick
Piano, Organ – Seth Justman
Vocals – Peter Wolf

Recorded Live on April 21 & 22, 1972 at the Cinderella Ballroom, Detroit, Michigan.
Location recorded by Metro Audio Inc.

The J. Geils Band made many fine, sometimes great, studio albums but where they really captured their full, thrilling potential was on the concert stage. Most live albums tend to be a poor excuse for actually being at the show in question, but the Geils Band's live albums jump out of the speakers with so much joy, fun, and unquenchable rock & roll spirit that you might as well be there. "Live" Full House was their first live record, and it is a blast from start to finish. Recorded in 1972 at Detroit's Cinderella Ballroom, the group runs through songs from their first two albums, The J. Geils Band and The Morning After, kicking out the jams on rockers like the Motown chestnut "First I Look at the Purse," Otis Rush's "Homework," and one of the group's first self-penned classics, "Hard Drivin' Man," as well as positively scorching through an incredible version of John Lee Hooker's dark and evil blues "Serves You Right to Suffer." It's easy to overlook J. Geils himself on guitar when you have a magnetic frontman like Peter Wolf or the unstoppable force that is harp player Magic Dick (check "Whammer Jammer" for proof of his greatness), but his soloing on this track serves notice that he could tear off a ferocious solo with the best of them. "Live" Full House is a short, punchy shot of rock & roll genius by one of the great bands of the '70s and one of the best live albums ever recorded.

The J.Geils Band - 1971 - The Morning After

The J.Geils Band 
The Morning After

01. I Don't Need You No More 2:35
02. Whammer Jammer 2:34
03. So Sharp 3:09
04. The Usual Place 2:44
05. Gotta Have Your Love 4:32
06. Looking For A Love 3:45
07. Gonna Fine Me A New Love 3:23
08. Cry One More Time 3:21
09. Floyd's Hotel 3:08
10. It Ain't What You Do (It's How You Do It!) 5:12

Bass – Danny Klein
Drums, Vocals – Stephen Bladd
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica [Harp] – Magic Dick
Keyboards – Seth Justman
Vocals – Peter Wolf

The Morning After is a near perfect follow-up to the J. Geils Band's self-titled debut album. It's more of the same winning blend of rocked-out blues, jumped-up soul, and pure rock & roll wildness with enough attitude and energy to get a club full of people from zero to sweaty in less than 60 seconds. Featuring the original versions of songs that became radio staples in their live incarnations ("Looking for a Love," the Magic Dick showcase "Whammer Jammer"), a batch of covers of rare soul gems ("So Sharp," Don Covay's "The Usual Place," the aforementioned "Looking for a Love"), and some fine originals (the rip-roaring opener "I Don't Need You No More," the very funky "Gotta Have Your Love," and the heart-rending ballad "Cry One More Time," which was covered memorably by Gram Parsons on G.P.), The Morning After is definite proof that the J. Geils Band were well on their way to becoming one of the best rock & roll bands of any era.

The J.Geils Band - 1970 - The J.Geils Band

The J.Geils Band 
The J.Geils Band

01. Wait 3:25
02. Ice Breaker (For The Big "M") 2:15
03. Cruisin' For A Love 2:32
04. Hard Drivin' Man 2:18
05. Serves You Right To Suffer 5:01
06. Homework 2:45
07. First I Look At The Purse 3:54
08. What's Your Hurry 2:44
09. On Borrowed Time 3:03
10. Pack Fair And Square 2:01
11. Sno-Cone 3:24

Bass – Danny Klein
Drums, Vocals – Stephen Bladd
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica [Harp] – Magic Dick
Piano, Organ – Seth Justman
Vocals – Peter Wolf

The J. Geils Band was one of the most popular touring rock & roll bands in America during the '70s. Where their contemporaries were influenced by the heavy boogie of British blues-rock and the ear-splitting sonic adventures of psychedelia, the J. Geils Band was a bar band pure and simple, churning out greasy covers of obscure R&B, doo wop, and soul tunes, cutting them with a healthy dose of Stonesy swagger. While their muscular sound and the hyper jive of frontman Peter Wolf packed arenas across America, it only rarely earned them hit singles. Seth Justman, the group's main songwriter, could turn out catchy R&B-based rockers like "Give It to Me" and "Must of Got Lost," but these hits never led to stardom, primarily because the group had trouble capturing the energy of its live sound in the studio. In the early '80s, the group tempered its driving rock with some pop, and the makeover paid off with the massive hit single "Centerfold," which stayed at number one for six weeks. By the time the band prepared to record a follow-up, tensions between Justman and Wolf had grown considerably, resulting in Wolf's departure, which quickly led to the band's demise. After working for years to reach to top of the charts, the J. Geils Band couldn't stay there once they finally achieved their goal.

Guitarist J. Geils, bassist Danny Klein, and harpist Magic Dick (born Richard Salwitz) began performing as an acoustic blues trio sometime in the mid-'60s. In 1967, drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and vocalist Peter Wolf joined the group, and the band went electric. Before joining the J. Geils Band, Bladd and Wolf played together in the Boston-based rock revivalist band the Hallucinations. Both musicians shared a love of arcane doo wop, blues, R&B, and rock & roll, and Wolf had become well-known by spinning such obscure singles as a jive-talking WBCN DJ called Woofuh Goofuh. Wolf and Bladd's specialized tastes became a central force in the newly revamped J. Geils Band, whose members positioned themselves as tough '50s greasers in opposition to the colorful psychedelic rockers who dominated the East Coast in the late '60s. Soon, the band had earned a sizable local following, including Seth Justman, an organist who was studying at Boston University. Justman joined the band in 1968, and the band continued to tour for the next few years, landing a record contract with Atlantic in 1970.

The J. Geils Band was a regional hit upon its early 1970 release, and it earned favorable reviews, especially from Rolling Stone. The group's second album, The Morning After, appeared later that year and, thanks to the Top 40 hit "Looking for a Love," the album expanded the band's following. However, the J. Geils Band continued to win new fans primarily through their concerts, so it was no surprise that their third album, 1972's Full House, was a live set. It was followed by Bloodshot, a record that climbed into the Top Ten on the strength of the Top 40 hit "Give It to Me." Following the relative failure of 1973's Ladies Invited, the band had another hit with 1974's Nightmares, which featured the number 12 single "Must of Got Lost." While their live shows remained popular throughout the mid-'70s, both Hot Line (1975) and the live Blow Your Face Out (1976) were significant commercial disappointments. The band revamped its sound and shortened its name to "Geils" for 1977's Monkey Island. While the album received good reviews, the record failed to bring the group increased sales.

In 1978, the J. Geils Band left Atlantic Records for EMI, releasing Sanctuary later that year. Sanctuary slowly gained a following, becoming their first gold album since Bloodshot. Love Stinks (1980) expanded the group's following even more, peaking at number 18 in the charts and setting the stage for 1981's Freeze Frame, the band's high watermark. Supported by the infectious single "Centerfold" -- which featured a memorable video that received heavy MTV airplay -- and boasting a sleek, radio-ready sound, Freeze Frame climbed to number one. "Centerfold" shot to the top of the charts late in 1981, spending six weeks at number one; its follow-up, "Freeze-Frame," was nearly as successful, reaching number four in the spring of 1982. The live album Showtime! became a gold album shortly after its late 1982 release.

While the band was experiencing the greatest commercial success of its career, relationships between the members, particularly writing partners Justman and Wolf, were volatile. When the group refused to record material Wolf had written with Don Covay and Michael Jonzun, he left the band in the middle of a 1983 recording session. Justman assumed lead vocals, and the group released You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd in late 1984, several months after Wolf's successful solo debut, Lights Out. The J. Geils Band's record was a failure, and the band broke up in 1985. Magic Dick and J. Geils reunited in 1993 to form a contemporary blues band that has released two CDs, Bluestime and Little Car Blues

The J. Geils Band's self-titled debut serves notice that rock & roll wasn't dead in 1970 despite the best efforts of the singer/songwriter brigade. Though it sounds a bit reserved in the light of the albums that followed, compared to the majority of bands on the scene, it was a nonstop blast of energy, fun, and sweat. Featuring the hipster jive of singer Peter Wolf, the amazing afro and harp chops of Magic Dick, the fret-burning work of J. Geils, and the jack of many trades Seth Justman (keys, compositions, backing vocals), the Geils Band rips through some classic blues by the likes of Otis Rush ("Homework"), Walter Price ("Pack Fair and Square"), and John Lee Hooker (a slow-burning "Serves You Right to Suffer"), old Motown gems ("First I Look at the Purse"), and originals that stand up well next to the covers ("Wait," "What's Your Hurry," and future live favorite "Hard Drivin' Man"). A nice mix of nostalgia, intensity, and bar band excitement, the album serves as fair warning that the Geils Band was on the scene and was ready to bring back the good-time spirit of the juke joint, the abandon of the early rock & roll scene, and the high energy of the late-'60s concert halls.

R.I.P. John Geils