Friday, April 14, 2017

Gravy Train - 1974 - Staircase To The Day

Gravy Train 
Staircase To The Day

01. Starbright Starlight (4:28)
02. Bring My Life On Back To Me (5:48)
03. Never Wanted You (4:04)
04. Staircase To The Day (7:31)
05. Going For A Quick One (5:16)
06. The Last Day (5:36)
07. Evening Of My Life (2:59)
08. Busted In Schenectady (8:11)

- Norman Barrett / guitar, vocals
- George Lynon / guitar
- Barry Davenport / drums
- Lester Williams / bass, vocals
- J.D. Hughes / keyboards, vocals, flute, saxes

- Mary Zinovieff / keyboards, violin
- Peter Solley / keyboards, vocals
- Jim Frank / Drums
- PP Arnold, Faye Doris, Bobby Harrison / Backing vocals
- Vic Smith / Cowbell

 It's very true, Gravy Train were never considered as a 'top shelf' prog act, but they have given us some memorable moments with 'Staircase To The Day' we have a stunning Roger Dean gatefold sleeve to enhance the listening experience, which may contain some vocal short-comings (Norman has a rather abrasive quality to his voice, and he is often very passionate in his delivery, this makes his vox quite an acquired taste).
Opening with the dynamic track 'Starbright Starlight', it suggests that the listener may have a winning hand with this album. Pete Solley's synth work being a treat, and the tune itself quite memorable. 'Bring My Life on Back To Me' is a rather standard tune, but Norman sings in a very emotionally distraught fashion, you almost feel his anguish and disappointment, his pain....or is it just painful to listen to ?? 'Never Wanted You' is an excellent tune featuring some odd meters and mellotron (always exciting prog embellishments) and finishing the first side is the beautiful title song - 7 and a half minutes of prog bliss, with Mary Zinovieff on synthesizer.

'Going For A Quick One' starts off with a decent riff leading into one hard-rockin' tune with more of Solley's synth work - the backing vocals by the 'Gospel Ayres' gives it a commercial touch though. 'The Last Day' is a light tune with some nice flute playing, but lacks excitement, 'Evening of my Life' is a pretty, piano driven ballad and closing track 'Busted In Schenectady' is quite an epic, full of heavy riffing, exceptional guitar playing, and even some shimmering electric violin.

Gravy Train - 1973 - Second Birth

Gravy Train 
Second Birth

01. Morning Coming (6:40)
02. Peter (4:05)
03. September Morning News (5:40)
04. Motorway (5:49)
05. Fields And Factories (8:32)
06. Strength Of A Dream (3:59)
07. Tolpuddle Episode (5:09)
08. Second Birth (6:55)

- Norman Barrett / guitar, lead vocals
- Barry Davenport / drums, percussion (tracks 1,5,7)
- George Lynon / guitar
- J.D. Hughes / keyboards, vocals, flute, saxes
- Les Williams / bass, vocals
- Russ Caldwell / Drums (Tracks 2,3,4,6,8,)

The misleading title of Gravy Train's third album refers to their migration to a new record label, and the consequent renewal of inspiration. While the band had secured a loyal following, the hope was that their move to Dawn records would lead to the breakthrough which had so far eluded them. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, and Second birth has gone on to become another albums from the early 70's which collectors search for on vinyl in vain.

The music here is essentially heavy rock with strong prog leanings. The first two tracks Morning coming and Peter have a driving rhythm and powerful organ at their core. Bands such as Uriah Heep and Atomic Rooster come to mind when hearing the vocal harmonies and ambitious arrangements.

The mood takes a sudden and surprising change for September morning news, an acoustic ballad with echoes of US folk rock bands such as The Byrds and Crosby Stills and Nash. On Motorway we move towards the early blues of Jethro Tull, not just through the overt use of flute, but also in terms of the vocal style and instrumental arrangement. The song is an early-ish environmental protest song, which also displays some of band leader Norman Barratt's Christian beliefs.

The longest track on the album Fields and factories continues in a similar theme. At 8½ minutes, the track affords room for some jazz orientated sax by JD Hughes. Strength of a dream takes an unexpected deviation into light acoustic pop, with distorted vocal harmonies and a catchy beat. The song, which was released as a single, has more than a passing resemblance to George Harrison's My sweet lord.

Tolpuddle Episode tells the tale of the martyrs who tried to set up the first trade union and were deported for their troubles. The story is told very literally, with further CSN harmonies on the choruses. The album closes with the seven minute title track, another heavy grinder which weaves it way through a complex arrangement.

Gravy Train - 1971 - (A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man

Gravy Train 
(A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man

01. Alone in Georgia (4:35)
02. (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man (7:06)
03. Jule's Delight (6:58)
04. Messenger (5:58)
05. Can anybody hear me (2:59)
06. Old Tin Box (4:45)
07. Won't talk about it (3:00)
08. Home again (3:25)

- Norman Barrett / lead guitar & lead vocals
- Barry Davenport: drums & percussion
- J.D Hugues / flute, keyboards, saxophone, vocals
- Les Williams / bass & backing vocals

 It is 1971 and the second album from bluesy-rock-prog band Gravy Train was produced rather fast and rather in a satisfaction full of the usual creativity (that's vital, but interpretable also), the usual madness (needed to improvise or improve) or the consequent features of music and melody (among different ideas melting below the surface of what we hear).
The band's the same: Nick Barrett (Barratt?!), vocalist and guitarist by a full nature, Lester Williams as bassist and back-need vocalist, J.D. Hugues on wind and brass, plus some keyboards without obvious taste, and Barry Davenport on drums and all the percussion (interesting, what/whose credit goes to some orchestral strings?). Even the label, Vertigo, supports their album, more keen on their hard rock or late blues value (yet it is the last album to be signed up over here). But the mood changes, interpretation is more robust but radically switched, the entire illusion of old-fashioned rock distinguishes differently and, finally, the album is fuller of art, broader of stunning effects, deeper than the rock usual sky-limit...however it isn't truly amazing, only perfectly achieved and very sensibly arranged.

The style evokes only a bit from what the debut satisfied and, bombastically, shown as art and time's special music: blues rock, by the cheap rhythm or the relentless groove, hard rock, deep in atmosphere and experiment (though, just like over that album's review, I repeat that it's strange to call experiment the wild and the exhaustive flair and flames sprinkled or totally sprayed over there), a bit of Tull-ish pale folk (and, hey, a bit of Floyd artificial smoke-rock as well); lots of artistic freedom, aggressive beauty, creaking talent - and so. (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man is the album above its standard, but still hangs on to deep expressions. Like the more progressive blend of symphonic, art rock, folksy drops and melody rock. Like the blues washing away towards a kind of soft rock. Like the hard choice being monumentally over-turn towards spices and mealier moments of rock and suspense. Like the music beauty (coming from arrangement and interpretation) being the only thing better than expected, by full impressions of reasonably expansive tastes. Gravy Train spots well its plentiful originality, but artists like Tull, Audience or a bit of relative and atmospheric Focus also does a nice. Until a sudden point, the album seems conceptual - or at least, one music moment follows another, spreading a diverse, concise, heart-warming and taste-storming entire effect of music...and progressive rock.

Out of the mix of lovely and amassing pieces, those rather weaker and less sensational should be mentioned first: starting with the very first piece, Alone In Georgia, very light in vocals and melodiousness - mainly very unusual for Gravy Train, but also too convincing for the album's entire soft art. Can Anybody Hear Me is a bit of Purple high rock, nothing is artistic, nothing, except the drum-flute-bass subtle observation reaches a short-time nice dandle. Furthermore, the last two pieces are very artistic, but not overwhelming. Reaching the better side of the view, the title is lovely and sensual for emotion, heart-breaking but otherwise rapid in its instrumental passion and its entire vocal art. Julie's Delight follows with folk, blues and a bit of the never forgotten strong rock. Messenger may have some problems with the opening folk theme, which is definitely too close to another famous line of another progressive rock band (can't remember if it's Tull, Focus or Nektar), or with another good mood of open vocals; but the guitar finale is sublime. Old Tin Box is jazzy and folksy, abstract-atmospheric and beautiful in easy character. The album is strong, pleasant, artistic.

Very close to a doubtless/flawless grand (too sad some tunes aren't bright enough), this is an album to remember, both the hard and the melodic provoking a pleasure worthy of progressive genuine high stuff, both the improvised and the utterly relaxed kind of music and jam does the effect of art beyond craft, mind and sense. I enjoyed deeply the debut, with its heavier and more strongly hazed freedom of rock/prog/folk/blues/psych expressions, and find that one my favorite. And, a bit, the best Gravy Train ever spotted.

Gravy Train - 1970 - Gravy Train

Gravy Train 
Gravy Train

01. The New One (5:11)
02. Dedication To Sid (7:21)
03. Coast Road (6:46)
04. Enterprise (6:20)
05. Think Of Life (5:07)
06. Earl Of Pocket Nook (16:15)

- Norman Barrett / guitar, vocals
- Barry Davenport / drums
- J.D. Hughes / flute, alto & tenor saxes, vocals
- Lester Williams / bass, vocals

 Gravy Train's self-titled debut is a compelling slab of late 60s progressive blues-rock. Defined mainly by the fabulous flute of J.D. Hughes and the theatrical vocals of Norman Barrett, this record will remind you of early Jethro Tull (that first incarnation in which Anderson and Abrahams tussled for control of the band). Whether one deems it an essential part of the prog adventure will indeed depend on whether one has just a passing interest in, or is thoroughly fascinated by, the raw experiments in music making that foreshadowed prog rock's golden age.
After taking a moment or two to get into stride, The New One explodes into an eerie jazz-inflected extravaganza, "Tell me where you're going" screams Barrett, and believe me, you'll want to know. Dedication To Syd may conatain a Pink Floyd reference in its title, but while it takes a few journeys from flute-driven blues-rock to Traffic-style psychedelia, none of it is particularly Floydian, least of all Barrett's vocals which sound like an audition for a part in Jesus Christ Superstar!

The leaden blues of Coast Road is the weakest track here, and even some nice fuzz guitar colouring doesn't make up for the lack of ideas. Thankfully, the fun resumes with the psychedelic swirls of Enterprise, which suddenly becomes a real dark stomping track. Think Of Life too starts off with a riff of monstrous power and allure, but loses its way just a tad as the song stretches out. Ultimately though, the album's "prog-quotient" probably hinges on the closer Earl Of Pocket Nook which runs for over 16 minutes. It's an exciting, oft-ramshackle hard rocking stew, in which Barrett's guitar and Hughes' sax (he occassionally plays simultaneous alto and tenor!) take turns to lead the parade, but despite the shifting moods, the end result is often "just" improvised blues-rock and as such, is unlikely to be everyone's cup of tea.

Indeed, to many this record will bear the dated feel of the late 60s progressive blues scene but therein lies its allure as far as yours truly is concerned. It's certainly not the most crucial stop one can make ... Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, The Nice, East Of Eden and Colosseum all made more exciting proto-prog records, but this isn't bad at all.

The J.Geils Band - 2012 - House Party - Live in Germany

The J.Geils Band
House Party - Live in Germany

01. Jus' Can't Stop Me
02. I Could Hurt You
03. Sanctuary
04. One Last Kiss
05. Teresa
06. Nightmares
07. Wild Man
08. Looking For A Love
09. Give It To Me
10. Whammer Jammer
11. Ain't Nothing But A House Party
12. Where Did Our Love Go
13. Pack Fair And Square
14. First I Look At The Purse

Bass – Daniel Klein
Drums, Vocals – Stephen Bladd
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica, Saxophone – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Vocals – Peter Wolf

Recorded live at Grugahalle Essen, Germany April 21st, 1979. CD & DVD packaged together in double jewel case.

Long before their brief, early 1980s run as MTV video-star darlings boasting a short string of hits including “Love Stinks,” “Freeze Frame” and “Centerfold,” Boston’s J. Geils Band built a reputation as one of rock’s premier live bands by routinely opening shows for everyone from Aerosmith to the Rolling Stones.
They also made a habit, more often than not, of regularly upstaging the headliners. Actually, that may be putting too polite a spin on it. What they really became best known for was blowing those other bands off the stage. As polished as Peter Wolf, Magic Dick, J. Geils and company may have looked and sounded on those MTV video clips, what got them to the dance in the first place was something far different. They were quite simply, an amazing live band.
Coming up in the 1970s arena-rock era of lasers, flashpots and fog machines, the J. Geils Band defied the odds with a show that combined the frenetic pacing of an old school R&B revue cut straight outta’ James Brown territory, with the tight chops and snarly attitude of a bar band that cut its musical teeth playing four sets a night for nothing more than free beer.
If the latter-day, pop-star incarnation of the J. Geils Band came off as just a bit too slick for some, back in the day they was just downright greasy. Of the two officially released concert recordings from this era, the single-disc Full House is a genuine classic, and the double-live Blow Your Face Out isn’t too far behind.
Both of these amazing live albums effectively bottle the lightning – right down to frontman Peter Wolf’s jive-talking speed raps between the songs. But the single most pivotal of the many combustible elements making up J. Geils Band’s electrifying live shows from this era – the visual one – has gone undocumented. Until now.
As a stand-alone document of the period, House Party: Live In Germany isn’t going to replace Full House as the definitive live J. Geils Band album. Not by a long shot. But it does capture a great show, and it provides the first official visual evidence on DVD and Blu-ray of just what made these guys so great in concert. To put things in perspective, it should also be noted that on this night, the J. Geils Band were performing on a bill sandwiched in-between Patti Smith and Johnny Winter.
What stands out most watching this though, is the elastic charisma of spider-legged frontman Peter Wolf, and the chemistry between him and the extraordinary Magic Dick. Visually speaking, Magic Dick serves primarily as Wolf’s other half with the wild Afro – an onstage foil not unlike the role Clarence Clemons used to play against Bruce Springsteen in the E Street Band.
jgeilshouseparty2Originally taped for Germany’s long-running TV concert showcase program Rockpalast, this 1979 concert captures the J. Geils Band in a transition period. Touring behind their current at the time album Sanctuary, the first half of the show leans heavily on material from that album, with several songs hinting at the more pop-rock direction that was just around the corner.
But it is only during the second half when things really start to catch fire, on crowdpleasers like “Lookin’ For A Love,” “Whammer Jammer” (the longtime set-staple showcasing Magic Dick’s considerable skills on the “licking stick”), and what may be the most over-the-top version of their early classic “House Party” ever. By the time of the encores, which include a cover of the Supremes “Where Did Our Love Go?” and concert favorite “First I Look At The Purse,” the show becomes the sort of house party that if I were Winter or Smith, I’d be fearful of following.
Thankfully, with House Party: Live In Germany, we finally have the visual evidence proving just how greasy, down and dirty they once were, right before they briefly became squeaky-clean (well, mostly anyway), MTV pop-stars. Fronting this vagabond assortment of rogues, Peter Wolf and the J. Geils Band have never looked or sounded better.

The J.Geils Band - 1982 - Showtime!

The J.Geils Band 

01. Jus' Can't Stop Me 3:16
02. Just Can't Wait 3:17
03. Walls Come Tumbling Down 3:12
04. Sanctuary 3:41
05. I'm Falling 5:29
06. Love Rap 5:27
07. Love Stinks 3:24
08. Stoop Down #39 5:49
09. I Do 3:01
10. Centerfold 3:54
11. Land Of A Thousand Dances 5:07

Bass – D.K.
Drums, Vocals – Stephen
Guitar – J.
Harmonica, Saxophone – Magic Dick
Horns – The Uptown Horns
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth
Vocals – Peter

Recorded at The Pine Knob Music Theater, Detroit, MI. Sept. 1982.

The commercially succesful years of the J.Geils band are actually my least favorite, Freeze Frame has some good tunes, but they were weak in comparison to the earlier years of Geils. But the live stuff is always a win, even here on the bands third live release SHOWTIME. It includes that pop nugget that I mentioned before as well as LOVE STINKS, (even love stinks is pretty good on here!) but still goes to show how much those original bad boys of boston could really heat it up on stage--- check this bit out even if you've never heard those bits before. They made an effort not to overlap any songs from the first two live albums (both killer sets as well), covering a lot of material from the later years, SANCTUARY etc... But you get the energy and rawness of classic J.Geils rockaroll, The LAND OF 1000 DANCES is killer stuff, loud. And you get the skattin and beboppin all over from Mooba Gooba, and even some out right group shout along stuff. They got a little silly in the early eighties sure, but the live act was still nothing but solid. Don't overlook. But by all means get FULL HOUSE and FACE OUT too if you can!

The J.Geils Band - 1981 - Freeze Frame

The J.Geils Band 
Freeze Frame

01. Freeze-Frame 3:57
02. Rage In The Cage 4:57
03. Centerfold 3:35
04. Do You Remember When 4:45
05. Insane, Insane Again 4:44
06. Flamethrower 4:59
07. River Blindness 6:06
08. Angel In Blue 4:51
09. Piss On The Wall 3:02

Bass – Daniel Klein
Drums, Vocals – Stephen Bladd
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica, Saxophone – Magic Dick
Horns – Alan Rubin (tracks: A1, B3), George Young (tracks: A1, B3), Lou Marini (tracks: A1, B3), Randy Brecker (tracks: A1, B3), Ronnie Cuber (tracks: A1, B3), Tom Malone (tracks: A1, B3)
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Vocals – Peter Wolf
Backing Vocals – Cissy Houston (tracks: B1 to B3), Fonzi Thornton (tracks: B1 to B3), Kenny Williams (tracks: B1 to B3), Luther Vandross (tracks: B1 to B3), Tawatha Agee (tracks: B1 to B3)

Tempering their bar band R&B with a touch of new wave pop production, the J. Geils Band finally broke through into the big leagues with Freeze Frame. Fans of the hard-driving rock of the group's '70s albums will find the sleek sound of Freeze Frame slightly disorienting, but the production gives the album cohesion. Good-time rock & roll remains at the core of the group's music, but the sound of the record is glossier, shining with synthesizers and big pop hooks. With its singalong chorus, "Centerfold" exemplifies this trend, but it's merely the tip of the iceberg. "Freeze Frame" has a great stop-start chorus, "Flamethrower" and "Piss on the Wall" rush along on hard-boogie riffs, and "Angel in Blue" is terrific neo-doo wop. There are still a handful of throwaways, but even the filler has a stylized, synthesized flair that makes it enjoyable, and the keepers are among the band's best.

The J.Geils Band - 1980 - Love Stinks

The J.Geils Band 
Love Stinks

01. Just Can't Wait 3:24
02. Come Back 5:09
03. Takin' You Down 4:06
04. Night Time 4:29
05. No Anchovies, Please 2:39
06. Love Stinks 3:45
07. Tryin' Not To Think About It 6:19
08. Desire (Please Don't Turn Away) 3:35
09. Till The Walls Come Tumblin' Down 4:01

Bass – Daniel Klein
Drums, Vocals – Stephen Bladd
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica, Saxophone – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Vocals – Peter Wolf

Released some two years after the band's EMI debut, Sanctuary, the Love Stinks project would see the J. Geils Band going in an even more commercial-leaning direction than its predecessor. Taking over the main production duties, keyboard player/main songwriter Seth Justman set out to better the band's gold-plus-selling Sanctuary. And to some degree, he wildly succeeded. Although not as consistent or diverse as Sanctuary, Love Stinks would feature one of the band's most recognizable FM songs ever -- the album's infectious title track "Love Stinks." In a live setting, the track would often turn into a veritable tour de force only to be outdone by Peter Wolf's hilarious rap about "Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden smoking weed together," which would introduce the song (often on a nightly basis). "Night Time" is another great, although somewhat typical "rave-on" type of J. Geils song; "No Anchovies Please" is a little strange; and closer "Till the Walls Come Tumblin' Down" is, as the song title hints, just that. Bolstered by "Just Can't Wait," another good album opener, Love Stinks turns out to be solid effort, but one that sounds a little outdated at times due to its acerbic, synth textures. Not one of the band's best overall records but one that would allow the band to outdo itself with the classic Freeze Frame a year later.

The J.Geils Band - 1978 - Sanctuary

The J.Geils Band 

01. I Could Hurt You 3:49
02. One Last Kiss 4:22
03. Take It Back 3:20
04. Sanctuary 3:52
05. Teresa 3:48
06. Wild Man 5:24
07. I Can't Believe You 4:13
08. I Don't Hang Around Much Anymore 4:19
09. Jus' Can't Stop Me 3:37

Bass – Daniel Klein
Drums, Vocals – Stephen Bladd
Guitar – J. Geils
Harp [Harmonicas] – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals, Arranged By – Seth Justman
Vocals – Peter Wolf

After the release of 1977's Monkey Island, the J. Geils Band severed ties with Atlantic and signed a fresh deal with EMI Records. The band's tenure with Atlantic only yielded a few successes, and on paper, teaming up with producer Joe Wissert, the man responsible for many of Earth, Wind & Fire's and Boz Scaggs' biggest hits, seemed like an odd choice. However, Sanctuary was a rebirth of sorts for the sextet: Wissert crystallized the band's attack, working off their leaner songwriting and simplifying their arrangements. Keeping their boogie-woogie bar band attack intact, Peter Wolf and Seth Justman delivered first-rate material, including the down and dirty opener "I Could Hurt You," the sublime title track and the lovely "One Last Kiss," which cracked the Top 40 in early 1978. The Stevie Wonder-ish "Take It Back," also a mild hit, predicted the commercial direction the band took on Freeze Frame three years later. The beautiful "Teresa," a heartbreaking ballad executed with help of a simple vocal/piano arrangement courtesy of the Wolf/Justman team, and "Wild Man,," which sounds like a leftover from the Atlantic years, are also highlights. Sanctuary's final song, the rollicking, Magic Dick-driven "Just Can't Stop Me," encapsulates everything magical (pun intended) and soulful about this band. With its effortless playing and a breakdown that'll have you on the edge of your seat, it served as the band's call into battle for the Freeze Frame tour. The Razor & Tie reissue features covers of "I Do" and "Land of a Thousand Dances" from the band's live record Showtime, recorded at the height of their Freeze Frame period. "Land of a Thousand Dances" in particular reminds you just how incredible these guys were live.

The J.Geils Band - 1977 - Monkey Island

The J.Geils Band 
Monkey Island

01. Surrender 3:49
02. You're The Only One 3:05
03. I Do 3:09
04. Somebody 5:13
05. I'm Falling 5:41
06. Monkey Island 9:02
07. I'm Not Rough 3:03
08. So Good 3:19
09. Wreckage 5:23

Bass – Danny Klein
Guitar – J. Geils
Harmonica – Magic Dick
Keyboards, Vocals – Seth Justman
Lead Vocals – Cissy Houston (tracks: A1)
Percussion, Vocals – Stephen Jo Bladd
Saxophone – Frank Vicari, Lew Del Gatto, Michael Brecker, Ron Cuber
Tenor Saxophone, Soloist – Michael Brecker (tracks: A5)
Trumpet – Alan Rubin, Lew Soloff, Magic Dick (tracks: B1), Randy Brecker
Vocals – Peter Wolf
Backing Vocals – Barbara Ingram (tracks: B3), G. Diane Sumler (tracks: A1, B1), Evette Benton (tracks: B3), Harriet Tharpe (tracks: B3), Luther Vandross (tracks: A1, B1), Michelle Cobbs (tracks: A1, B1), Theresa V. Reed (tracks: A1, B1)

The J. Geils Band's chart profile had been steadily slipping since the Top Ten success of their third record, Bloodshot. Even the awe-inspiring live album Blow Your Face Out, the band's near-maniacal dedication to the live stage, and their nonstop presence on the FM dial couldn't get them a hit album. By the time of 1977's Monkey Island the band seemed a little confused by it all and maybe even a bit weary of the effort to make it on their own terms. In most cases this would make for an artistic disaster, but hearing Geils branch out and lie back makes for one of their more interesting and challenging, if not most coherent, releases. Ranging from the wall-shaking funk of "Surrender" to the soft rock sweetness of "You're the Only One" (which comes complete with Magic Dick impersonating Stevie Wonder at his most romantic), the bopping AM-friendly R&B of "I Do" (the album's only cover), and the roaring hard rock of "Somebody," the album covers a lot of territory. Add to that the epic-length and overblown "Monkey Island," the smooth ballad "I'm Falling," and the shockingly slick modern R&B confection "So Good," and the album becomes near schizophrenic. Luckily, despite all the soul searching, dead ends, and obvious commercial overtures, the album retains enough of the innate Geils Band charm (and a couple good tracks like "Surrender," "So Good," and the loose blues rocker "I'm Not Rough") to make it work to a certain extent. Not a classic by any means but worth hearing at least once if only to hear why Sanctuary(on which they figure out how to make a totally commercial record the Geils way) was such a stunning return to form.

The J.Geils Band - 1976 - Blow Your Face Out

The J.Geils Band 
Blow Your Face Out

01. Southside Shuffle 4:11
02. Back To Get Ya 4:32
03. Shoot Your Shot 4:42
04. Musta Got Lost 4:18
05. Where Did Our Love Go 3:47
06. Truck Drivin' Man 1:44
07. Love-itis 3:52
08. Intro (Lookin' For A Love) 2:03
09. (Ain't Nothin' But A) Houseparty 4:50
10. So Sharp 4:15
11. Detroit Breakdown 5:28
12. Chimes 8:27
13. Sno-Cone 3:05
14. Wait 3:27
15. Raise Your Hand 3:56
16. Start All Over 2:27
17. Give It To Me 5:02

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

Recorded: Nov. 15 & Nov. 19 1975/Boston Garden; Boston, Mass./Cobo Hall; Detroit, Mich.

Double-album live sets came into vogue in 1976 after Peter Frampton's sales went through the roof for A&M, Bob Seger found fame with Live Bullet on Capitol, and the J. Geils Band released its second in-concert document in four years, Blow Your Face Out. There is great power in these grooves recorded over two nights, November 15 and November 19, at the now deconstructed Boston Garden and in Detroit at Cobo Hall. Here's the beautiful dilemma with the Geils band: Live: Full House, recorded in Detroit in April of 1972, contains five songs that became J. Geils standards, and none of them overlap on the 1982 EMI single live disc, Showtime, chock-full of their latter-day classics. Can you believe there is absolutely no overlap from the first or third live album on this double disc, which came in between (except for "Looking for a Love," uncredited, which they slip into the intro of "Houseparty" on side two)? The Rhino CD contains Jeff Tamarkin's liner notes, while the original Atlantic album has an exquisite gatefold chock-full of photos, and inner sleeves with priceless band memo stuff à la Grand Funk's Live Album. Sides one and two are great, and three and four are even better. "Detroit Breakdown" rocks and grooves, with tons of audience applause...Wolfy and the polished authority of his monologues are in command as the band oozes into "Chimes" from 1973's Ladies Invited. About three and a half minutes longer than the five-minute original, it is one of many highlights on this revealing pair of discs. A precursor to 1977's title track, "Monkey Island," "Chimes" gives this enigmatic band a chance to jam out slowly and lovingly over its groove. There is so much to this album: the Janis Joplin standard "Raise Your Hand" written by Eddie Floyd, Albert Collins' "Sno-Cone" from their first album, and "Truck Drivin' Man" beating Bachman-Turner Overdrive to the punch. B.B. King producer Bill Szymczyk does a masterful job bringing it all together, and the band photos on back look...roguish. "Must of Got Lost," "Where Did Our Love Go," and "Give It to Me" are here in all their glory, a different glory than the studio versions, on an album that should have done for Geils what Live Bullet and Frampton Comes Alive did for their respective artists. If only a legitimate release of their 1999 tour would be issued to stand next to this monster -- during that tour they combined the best elements of all three of their previous live discs. The J. Geils Band is more important and influential than the boys have been given credit for. It will be the live documents that ensure they eventually get their due, and Blow Your Face Out is a very worthy component that can still frazzle speakers.