The J. Geils Band, ‘House Party Live in Germany’ – CD/DVD Review
Though they've been around in one form or another for some 45 years, the question must be posed. Are the J. Geils Band one of the great lost American rock and roll bands of all-time?
The band are, perhaps, best known for their brief stint as pop stars in the early '80s when their album Freeze Frame and the single "Centerfold" stormed to the top of the charts. For those who never dug deeper, they may seem like a middle-of-the-road MTV-era band. To those we say, start digging, and this killer live disc is as good a place as any to begin.
Recorded in 1979, House Party Live in Germany captures the Boston rockers in fine form, hot on the heels of 1978's Sanctuary. From the opening rumble of "Jus' Can't Stop Me," from the aforementioned album, there is no question these guys came to kick out the jams. The ragged guitar, blazin' harmonica (courtesy of Magic Dick) and powerhouse rhythm section alone make for some fine jet fuel, but add in the fire and soul of Peter Wolf on vocals, and all doubt has left the building. Part James Brown, part Mick Jagger, Wolf has long been one of the most energetic and dynamic front men to ever step on stage.
A handful of songs from Sanctuary are featured, all of which outshine their studio counterparts, but promoting their current album didn't stop them from digging into their catalog for a hefty batch of rave-up rockers. A particularly incendiary take on "Looking for a Love" is pretty much jaw-dropping as the band rock things up to the max. "Give It to Me" and "Whammer Jammer" sizzle while "(Ain't Nothing but a) House Party," the 1967 single from the Showstoppers that became the Geils Band's signature song over the years, rips things apart. A burn-down-the-house version of the Contours' "First I Look at the Purse" closes up the show in fine form.
This show was recorded for the legendary German music television show Rockpalast, and this special set includes a CD as well as DVD of their entire performance (you can see "Teresa" here). According to the liner notes, the complete lineup for this episode also included Johnny Winter and the Patti Smith Group, with J. Geils opening the show. This is one of several Rockpalast collections that have been released over the past few years including UFO, Graham Parker & the Rumour and Rockpile to name a few.
Though J. Geils and company made plenty of great studio albums over the years, it has always been their live recordings to which fans point. Legendary albums like Full House and Blow Your Face Out are what the band built their reputation on, and this newly released live set from 1979 only adds to that legacy.
See the Top 100 Albums of the '70s
The 10 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs