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J. Geils Band

The J. Geils Band was one of those groups people generally came across on their way to see somebody else. As an opening act, the J. Geils Band had a way of sneaking up on an audience with a combination of bar band Rock, Soul and Blues. The three most memorable band members were guitarist Geils, singer Peter Wolf, known for wild energetic performances, (and his marriage to actress Faye Dunaway, which lasted five years) and Magic Dick, who displayed an awesome harmonica mastery, plus a quirky stage presence. Also on board were Seth Justman (keyboards), Danny Klein (bass) and Stephen Jo Bladd (drums).

Their R&B based debut album failed to have much impact. But it did get an excellent review from Rolling Stone magazine (back when it was focused on music) calling J. Geils Band the "Most Promising New Band" of the year. But it wasn't until '73, two years later, that J. Geils found success. The "Bloodshot" album with "Give It To Me" and "Make Up Your Mind" went gold. They followed that success with a song written by Justman and Wolf, "Must Of Got Lost." After that, it was slim pickings for the remainder of the decade. While J. Geils Band continued to record and tour they just couldn't get across. Their record company even put out a "Best Of" package to wrap things up.

Having streamlined their R&B tendencies and adding a touch of wry humor the J. Geils Band found a larger audience in '80. "Love Stinks," featured a title track with an idea so basic, simple and true, it was amazing nobody though of it earlier. Rather than bemoaning love's cruel ways "Love Stinks" had a fun, having-a-party feeling.

"Freeze Frame," appearing two years later, did even better. Again, mining the pseudo-novelty vein, Justman composed "Centerfold," a sweet song about having your heart torn out when seeing (along with the rest of the world) your high school flame in a centerfold. Justman and Wolf composed the title track which, as you might expect, had a rollicking organ part. Justman also produced the album.

Wolf eventually left for a moderately successful solo career. The band carried on briefly without him. Then they reunited several times over the years for concerts and tours.

Another attempt to carry on without a key band member led to a novel lawsuit.

J. Geils sued the J. Geils Band.

According to court documents, Geils stated that Wolf, Justman, Klein and 'Magic Dick' Salwitz "planned and conspired" to exclude him from a '12 tour. "Mr. Geils has this trademark and never transferred it to anybody," explained Geils' attorney. "These guys performed in Mr. Geils's band, but that doesn't give them the right to grab the name."

Fortunately for Wolf, he had his solo career to fall back on. His '10 album "Midnight Souvenirs" won Album of the Year at the Boston Music Awards. But it was six years before that set was followed by Wolf's eighth solo effort, "A Cure For Loneliness."

J. Geils Band Discography


1970 The J. Geils Band
1971 The Morning After
1972 "Live" Full House
1973 Bloodshot
1973 Ladies Invited
1974 Nightmares...and Other Tales From The Vinyl Jungle
1975 Hotline
1976 Blow Your Face Out
1977 Monkey Island
1978 Sanctuary
1979 Best of the J. Geils Band
1980 Love Stinks
1980 Best Of The J. Geils Band Two
1981 Freeze Frame (#1 US - Platinum)
1982 Showtime! (Live - U.S. Gold)
1984 You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd

The J. Geils Band was around for a long, long time before they clicked with the mass market. Their early '70s albums are OK but nothing to get real excited about. The group hit stride with "Monkey Island," "Love Stinks" and "Freeze Frame." Released between '77 and '81 these recordings display the group's loose, goofy nature and are the most entertaining. Of the compilations "Flashback: The Best of the J. Geils Band" and "Houseparty: The J. Geils Band Anthology" nail it.

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