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.
Besides being a straight-ahead rocking motherfucker, the album also could serve as a model of set structuring. It opens with a full-blast attention-grabber, "First, I Look at the Purse," with everybody getting in their licks, then moves right into Otis Rush's "Homework." A short breather, then into "Pack Fair and Square," another stomper. Then time for solos: Harp player Magic Dick scores on the instrumental "Whammer Jammer" proving he's one of the best harpmen blowing today. ("Blow your face out!" singer Wolf says, and he does.) "Hard Drivin' Man" (a Wolf-Geils original) gives Seth Justman a chance to work out on piano, and his time spent with Jerry Lee Lewis 45s shows here.
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.
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!
- Tony Glover, Rolling Stone, 11/9/72.
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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