Full House "Live"
The J. Geils Band
Released: October 1972
Chart Peak: #54
Weeks Charted: 26
Certified Gold: 2/8/74
The Geils Band is one of my favorite performing groups -- not only do they play a tight and tough no-bullshit mixture of blues and rock, but they know and groove on the value of giving folks a show. Not your run-of-the-mill campy sequined theatricality of miscellaneous gender, but instead slippin' and slidin' and raunchy madman jiving which makes watching as good a hearing.
Though much of their sound and style comes from Chicago blues, they aren't one of those pretentious blues revival groups; they'd rather stimulate your groin than your intellect. Their two previous albums showed a hard-core blues band metamorphosing into a good-time rock band with long roots in the sound they grew up grooving on. Those albums contained a mixture of older numbers, as well as originals which fit right into the styles of the raunchers whose music they absorbed.
Time to get down to it -- side two opens with the band working out on John Lee Hooker's "Serve You Right to Suffer." It starts very much in the style of the Hook, then it's time to pay debts as Wolf says "gonna do it Chicago style." Magic Dick and J. Geils trade some harp-guitar riffs from the best days of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, then back to now as J. gets his ax feedback screaming. A nice time-trip in a ten-minute workout, with just the right malevolence.
The tempo gets kicked back up with "Cruising for a Love" and the side closes with their Top 40 hit "Looking for a Love," complete with Danny Klein's bass punching you in the guts.
All told, a set that moves from one end to the other like a burning locomotive -- if it don't get you off, check with your doctor or plumber, something wrong down there.
(Only one complaint. I'd have dug to hear a few more originals -- like the raunchily surrealistic "Floyd's Hotel" -- and at least a couple of new numbers. Live is better than studio, sure, but it's still the same yo-yo, you dig?)
But why bitch -- there are damn few live albums that hold up as strong as this all the way through -- or that you'll ever want to play again. I'll bet this one will be in my "hot" file until their next album is out, and if this is any kind of clue, it ought to be one bad jam!
Full House, the J. Geil's Band's new album for Atlantic, is far and away the most reassuring bit of rock-and-roll madness I've heard in months, with the possible exception of the great Slade Alive. It also offers final and conclusive proof, if any is needed at this point, that these guys are the first white band since the Stones to forge a truly convincing personal identity out of the blues, and that they are potentially the finest band in the country as well.
Recorded before an audience in Detroit (a city noted for great rock-and-roll crowds, as witness that legendary Stones bootleg disc), Geils and company tear into a selection of tunes from their previous releases with an energy that is at times close to overwhelming. It would be pointless to single out individual contributions in depth -- this is a band that Magic Dick's harp work verges on the unbelievable, that guitarist Geils' solos are a model of economy and controlled passion, and that the rhythm section made up of Danny Klein, Seth Justman, and Stephen Bladd rocks like mad. Best of all, for the first time we have a record that does lead singer Peter Wolf justice; his vocals here are fare superior to what he's done in the studio, but, more important, we get some representative samplings out of his outrageous in-person jive patter. The only thing missing, in fact, is the sight of him leaping around the stage like an undernourished James Brown.
What will determine the final verdict on the band is how their writing develops. Until now, their originals have been cast largely in the mold of the blues and r-and-b numbers they perform with such obvious relish, and it's a bit disappointing that they haven't gotten into anything new this time out. But what the hell, the Stones didn't start composing seriously until their fifth album. Besides, if Full House can do commercially for J. Geils what a similar concert record did for the Allman Brothers (a group that, in terms of rock-and-roll savvy, isn't fit to wipe the sweat off Peter Wolf's forehead), then I think we can expect some surprises from them on their next try. In the meantime, this has got to be the party album of the year.
- Steve Simels, Stereo Review, 12/72.
Boston's J. Geils Band are proving to be the ultimate saviours of rock & roll. They're a super powerful rock band, given to no subtleties in performance or mannerisms. Lead singer Peter Wolf is as gutsy and insistently dynamic a vocalist as any of the early rockers. Recorded at a Detroit concert, emotional and physical catharsis results upon hearing "First I Look at the Purse," "Looking For a Love," "Homework," and "Hard-Drivin' Man."
- Billboard, 1972.
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