J. Geils Band

“Live” Full House (Atlantic ’72) Rating: A-
Although best remembered today for slick later singles such as “Love Stinks,” “Centerfold,” and “Freeze Frame” (and, to a lesser extent, minor early hits such as “Give It To Me” and “Must Of Got Lost”), the J. Geils Band are best remembered by anyone who saw them as an excellent live act. Like many great live bands, however, they never were quite able to transfer their tremendous live energy into their studio recordings (several of which were very good, anyway), so it made sense when the band released “Live” Full House as their third album (following J. Geils Band and The Morning After). Containing eight songs and running on for only a skimpy 35 minutes, this album, which is comprised of seven cover songs and one original - all culled from the first two albums - just oozes sweat, sincerity, and excitement. You probably won’t remember too many songs, some of which are only average from a compositional standpoint, but surely you’ll remember the energy and charisma of these action packed performances. Most of these songs feature a frenetic pace and are r&b or boogie-based, but the band gets moodier on a bluesy Otis Rush number (“Homework”), and things really slow down on John Lee Hooker’s “Serves You Right To Suffer,” a 9-minute extravaganza that doesn’t always hold together but which features some impressive jam sections, particularly from guitarist Geils. But this was no one-man show; in fact, it always seemed strange to me that the band was named after Geils, who was but a piece of the puzzle and no more important than several other band members, all of whom have their moments here as well. For example, Magic Dick (real name: Richard Salwitz) is a fine harp player who shines throughout his showcase piece “Whammer Jammer,” while piano/keyboard player Seth Justman (also the band’s primary songwriter along with singer Peter Wolf) adds the boogie to tracks such as “Pack Fair And Square” and “Hard Drivin' Man” (the latter being the lone original band composition included here). The rhythm section of bassist Danny Klein and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd propel the ferociously fast pace of songs such as "First I Look At The Purse" and "Looking For A Love" (a pair of cover songs – by The Contours and The Valentinos, respectively - that may sound familiar to fans of classic rock radio), while Wolf is a top-notch rock singer who really should've shucked some of his mindless jive talking and simply stuck to singing. Again, most of these songs aren't great, but the band's powerful playing more than makes up for any shortcomings, and in retrospect albums such as this helped pave the way for later pub rockers such as Graham Parker and the Rumour. Note: Since these guys were a great high energy live band first and foremost, I also highly recommend their more expansive 1976 live set Live: Blow Your Face Out.

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