The J. Geils Band is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts, under the leadership of guitarist J. Geils. The band played R&B-influenced blues rock in the 1970s before moving towards a more new wave sound in the 1980s. Since its initial break-up in 1985, the band has reunited several times. Their biggest hit was their 1981 single, "Centerfold", which charted No. 1 in the United States in early 1982.
43 years ago today, The J. Geils Band released the first live album of their career, an effort which would provide them with their gold album and increase their profile to the point where, the next time around, they’d find themselves with their first top-10 album.
“Live” – Full House inspired annoyance amongst know-it-all poker fans, who were quick to observe that the five cards pictured on the cover – the jack of spades, the jack of diamonds, the jack of clubs, the king of spades, and the queen of hearts – do not, in fact, constitute a full house. On the other hand, it’s a live album performed in front of a sold-out crowd, a.k.a. a full house, and the queen is winking, so we’re pretty sure she’s in on the joke…even if some too-serious poker aficionados weren’t.
“Live” – Full House wasn’t the last concert album from The J. Geils Band (it would be followed by 1976’s Blow Your Face Out and 1982’s Showtime!), and of the three they released over the course of their career, it wasn’t even their most commercially successful (that honor belongs to Blow Your Face Out, which hit #40), but if you’re looking for a hot and sweaty document of the band at their rawest and most rockin’, then Full House is the only way to go.
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.
Full House consists entirely of tracks which appeared on the first two, but here they're full of the dragons-breath frenzy which the group puts into all their shows, without sacrificing any music.
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 45's shows here.
|Danny Klein & Peter Wolf|
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! [review by Tony Glover, Rolling Stone, 11/9/72].
After the “Are you ready to rock and roll?” intro from the emcee, the band bursts into action with Smokey Robinson’s “First I Look at the Purse,” the sister song to Barrett Strong’s “Money” in the genre of naked greed music. The Contours get credit for the original, a surprisingly sanitized version that doesn’t square with the carnal energy they had displayed on their signature hit, “Do You Love Me?” In the hands of Peter Wolf and company, the raw undertone of the song comes through, hot, heavy and with no apologies for the blatant capitalist exploitation of a broad. Stephen Bladd rocks out on the drums, Daniel Klein beats that bass, and Magic Dick gets into the act with a soulful piece of harp.
Without stopping to breathe, the band proceeds to Otis Rush’s “Homework.” The original is, oddly enough, more famous for its killer horn arrangement than Otis’ guitar or vocal. The J. Geils Band has a lot of fun with it, with Peter Wolf’s intro to the “College of Musical Knowledge” setting the stage for an ironically melodramatic vocal that sounds great and makes you want to laugh at the same time. J. Geils delivers a solid solo, more on the rock side than the blues side, and Seth Justman’s subtle organ adds to the soulful melodrama of the moment.
We’ve had two teasers so far, so it’s time to let Magic Dick take center stage with the licking stick. The most influential harmonica piece of its era, “Whammer Jammer” is a flat out fucking gas, a virtuoso performance combining high energy, sensitive touch and not a little bit of showmanship. Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone claimed that Magic Dick was possibly “the best white musician to ever play blues harmonica,” conveniently forgetting about Charlie Musselwhite and primarily revealing that Dave Marsh is a racist asshole. Magic Dick and Charlie were and are great harmonica players, Little Walter and Sonny Terry were great harmonica players, so let’s just enjoy what they gave us instead of comparing them or worrying about what the fuck color they are. If I could only listen to one, of course it would be Little Walter, but that doesn’t take anything away from Magic Dick. I love them both! Even Mary Wells said you could have two lovers!
This is where I think they made a bit of a mistake in the setlist, because there’s no fucking way you can follow that rendition of “Hard Drivin’ Man.” Although they do a fine version of John Lee Hooker’s slow blues number,”Serves You Right to Suffer,” it feels like a bit of a letdown, even with Magic Dick’s exceptional solo, some clever organ work from Seth Justman and J. Geils’ best guitar work on the album. Even when they ramp up the speed on “Cruisin’ for Love,” it still seems we’ve slowed down. Momentum matters, people!
Although I never cared for their studio work, and really disliked the stuff from the “Centerfold” period, I would give anything to go back in the time machine and see these guys at their peak. Live: Full House gives us some great musicians whipping the shit out of a crowd in an orgy of R&B-based rock. There’s no meaning, there’s nothing to think about . . . it’s just the magic of no-holds barred rock ‘n’ roll at its best.
[review by altrockchick on May 30, 2013]
This post consists of MP3 (320kps) ripped from my trusty ol' vinyl (well played but still clean as a whistle) and includes full album artwork for both vinyl and CD. Nothing more I can say about this one except to say that "Live" Full House is a short, punchy shot of rock & roll genius by one of the great bands of the '70s and one of the best live albums ever recorded. Enjoy.
01 - First I Look at the Purse
02 - Homework
03 - Pack Fair and Square
04 - Whammer Jammer
05 - Hard Drivin' Man
06 - Serves You Right to Suffer
07 - Cruisin' for a Love
08 - Looking for a Love
J. Geils - Guitar
Peter Wolf - Vocal
Seth Justman - Piano And Organ
Magic Dick - Harp
Danny Klein - Bass
Stephen Jo Bladd - Drums And Vocals
Live Full House Link (90Mb) New Link 11/09/2018