Wednesday, March 31, 2010

forgotten bar band

For people of a certain age, The J. Geils Band name conjures up memories of dated synthesizer-focused pop tunes and early MTV videos featuring scantily clad teenagers and Peter Wolf running around them.  But the band was a great Boston-area (and beyond) bar band prior to their "Love Stinks" and "Freeze-Frame" stranglehold on the pop charts in the early 80's.  Their music took a turn toward the trendy for the "Love Stinks" record, but before that in albums like "Sanctuary", "Bloodshot" and "The Morning After" they cranked out some really great r&b influenced rock.  They didn't have any big selling singles but they released some great songs before they struck it rich, including some of my favorite FM singles in the 70's - "One Last Kiss", "Must of Got Lost", and "Give It To Me" .  They also released a great live album in 1976 ("Blow Your Face Out") that showcased how great a live act they'd become from years of touring.  They featured Peter Wolf on vocals and Magic Dick on harmonica, along with Seth Justman (keyboards and main songwriter) and J.Geils (also on guitar).  But as consistent and good as they were, they just couldn't break through with their brand of r&b and rock, hence the radical change in 1979 (with "Love Stinks") to a more contemporary synthesizer-first sound, which was becoming popular at that time.  I remember hearing "Come Back", the first single off the "Love Stinks" album, and wondering what disco group it was.  I went back recently and downloaded some of their early albums and was surprised at how fresh they sound.  But I still don't think I can listen to the songs  "Love Stinks" or "Freeze-Frame" ever again.  They get together and perform reunion tours once in a while, probably still a good show, minus the synths.

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