Friday, 13 February 2015

J Geils Band-Full House

During the 1970's there were few live acts that matched the popularity of the J Geils Band, they never quite achieved that same success in terms of records sales. Apart from their classic Freeze Frame album and the radio staple Centrefold the band didn't find consistent commercial success.

The J Geils band were Boston natives and were formed as an acoustic blues trio in the mid 60's with guitarist John Geils, bass player Danny Klein and harmonica player Richard Salwitz (known as Magic Dick). In 1967 they added drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and ex disc jockey Peter Wolf on vocals, the following year keyboardist Seth Justman rounded out the lineup. In 1970 the band signed with Atlantic records, an apt label for their party time R&B fused music. Their third album released in 1972 was the classic Full House album recorded live at the Cinderella Ballroom in Detroit, a city where they were immensely popular. The album is full throttle rock and roll, a distinct nod to the band's heroes of the past, with splashes of Motown soul and blues thrown into the pot.

The Contours cut some impressive 45's during the early to mid 60's one of these First I Look At The Purse is stripped down and greased up Boston style with some impressive harp work from Magic Dick, Wolf sounds like the quintessential frontman whilst he has trouble hitting all the notes just through sheer exuberance his calls the band on. Otis Rush cut one smoking 45 in 1962 for Don Robey's Duke label, Homework is given a funky way past midnight groove, J Geils has always been an underrated guitarist he provides nice counterpoints to Magic Dick and Seth Justman on the keys. I think the Blues Brothers took some musical hints from Pack Fair And Square which is a straight ahead rock and soul explosion. Whammer Jammer unleashes Magic Dick who supplies some blustering harp work, sounding like Little Walter down on South Michigan Avenue by way of Sonny Boy Williamson at KFFA in West Helena Arkansas. Side one concludes with the band penned Hard Drivin Man with some honky style piano work from Justman, a road warrior tune heavily driven by the influence of Chicago blues.

Side two kicks of with a slow grinding cover of the John Lee Hooker classic Serves You Right To Suffer with each member of the band showing their wares, some nice drumming from Stephen Jo Bladd nailing those ham fisted rat up a drain pipe fills. The blues barnstorming comes with Cruising For Love before the set closes with an uptempo version of the Bobby Womack classic Looking For A Love which also gave the band their first U.S top 40 hit single. It would be nearly ten years before the band hit the stratosphere with the Centrefold, in between the band clocked up plenty of road miles and established themselves as one of the best live rock and roll bands around.

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