Back in the early to mid-Seventies it was common for rock critics to attempt to describe a band or artist as the “next” in a long litany of artists. Look at all of those “Next Dylans” that were running around the world; yet we now know that there is only ONE Bob Dylan. Likewise, a couple of American bands were hung with the title of being the “America’s Answer to the Rolling Stones”. Please! Although like the Stones, these bands were definitely influenced by the blues, they were nothing like the Stones. I am talking about two Boston bands, Aerosmith and the J. Geils Band. Aerosmith went on to redefine American hard rock, while just as the J. Geils Band were ascending to their right place as a big-selling band, egos got in the way as lead singer Peter Wolf left hot on the heels of the band’s biggest success in 1982.
Go buy ANY of the albums by the J. Geils Band, and you will hear one of the greatest party bands in the history of rock music. Sure, every knows “Centerfold”, “Freeze Frame” and “Love Stinks”, but the band had ten albums of blues-based party time music BEFORE those songs and the albums they come from ever hit the airwaves. Sure, their record sales were not like the Stones, but the quality of their music is unparalleled. As a matter of fact, I was known as a dance DJ to throw in lesser known Geils cuts without a diminished coverage on the dance floor.
The first song of theirs I remember becoming a fan of was “Must of Got Lost”, a number 12 hit in the U.S., and the band’s first Top 20 hit in 1974.in Blue From that point, the J. Geils Band was on my radar. Believe it or not, none of the songs they played on the episode of SNL in which Rodney Dangerfield hosted peaked higher than number 38. That night they played “Love Stinks”, which peaked at number 38, and an older song “Sanctuary”, which peaked at #47 in 1979. As a matter of fact, the only Top 40 songs they had in addition to “Must of Got Lost”, “Centerfold” (#1), “Freeze Frame” (#4) and “Love Stinks” (#38), where “Looking for a Love” (#39, 1971), “Give It to Me” (#30, 1973), “One Last Kiss” (#35, 1978), “Come Back” (#32, 1980), “Angel in Blue” (#40, 1982) and “I Do (live)” (#24, 1982).
But, honestly, the J. Geils Bands was an album band that few realized existed. They had great studio albums and even better live albums. Unfortunately, I never got to see them in concert, but they had a reputation of being a fantastic live band. That’s why you should get all three of their live albums in order to get a small peaked into their truest form, live. And even though they graduated into arenas, they were a bar band in their DNA, much like Springsteen’s E Street Band. They are from a by-gone era, but they were one of the best at the time.
Now, they do periodically perform live. If you want to hear new music, then you need to follow lead singer Peter Wolf’s solo career, since he continues to release excellent albums in the J. Geils Band vein.
One day, the J. Geils Band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, we they do, remember that I predicted it, and even promoted it. Now, go out to your favorite record store and buy some vinyl Geils, and start with something other than the Freeze Frame or Love Stinks albums, since you know those songs. Go deeper than that, and you will be greatly rewarded. The J. Geils Band rocks!