The J. Geils Band -(from the album The J. Geils Band) - The Boston music scene never, ever got the kudos it should have received for being inclusive with its music though the community has become a home in niche markets of Blues, Metal, and Indie Rock and Ska. The Boston fanbase has a rule…..you are wicked good, or you suck: no in-betweens. When J. Geils formed his namesake, he was part of a trio that would host J. Geils Band bassman D.K. (Danny Klein) and Magic Dick (Richard Salwitz). The Blues was their muse, and the trio kept the format in their songs when they became electric in 1967, adding drummer Stephen Jo Bladd. The group took on a frontman for his microphone chops, though it was radio waves and a DJ’s knowledge of music that got Peter Wolf the attention of the existing J.Geils Blues Band line-up. The group dropped Blues from its moniker and added the final member for the line-up with a former fan, Seth Justman on keyboards. The J. Geils Band signed to Atlantic Records and released a self-titled album that brought Soul and Blues into Rock arena shows, showing a young rock’n’roll audience that the real party was in the soul The J Geils Band rocked.
The album, The J. Geils Band, was released in 1970. It hosted five tracks written by the group, which was unusual for the mix of Blues, Rock and Soul bands that included the Geils Band. To draw the line from where they were standing musically, they admitted they had as much trouble at Otis Rush did in his 1962 hit, “Homework”. The J. Geils Band ask “What’s Your Hurry”, sink into pain “On Borrowed Time”, and pound the beat into your brain with “Hard Drivin’ Man”. The tracks all fit in with the album mood of rock’n’roll boys with a major woody for rhythm and blues. The original songs are from the pens of group members Peter Wolfe, J. Geils, and Seth Justman.
The J. Geils Band stomp into their debut with opening cut “Wait”, an in-house tune by Seth and Peter while J. Geils pens the following cut “Ice Breaker (for Big M)” I don’t know how J. saw the song. As a opener for the classic Soul show band instrumental live show, it fits very well, though it is track number two on The J, Geils Band. Included was their version of The Contours, “First I Look at the Purse” (written by Smokey Robinson), the initial track that gained the group FM radio attention as a live recording from their shows. The J. Geils Band became synonymous with bar and party bands. Sonically, that is exactly where they landed though what the Boston boys did was take it to the top by playing the songs they held close, and letting their Rock muse guide their moves. The studio version of the hit live track showed that the purse strings were linked to J. Geils guitar strings as he licks cleanly up and down throughout the course of the song.
The J. Geils Band had a secret weapon in the future-thinking band mentality that Magic Dick should take the lead with his harmonica, as he does on the Big Walter Price tune “Pack Fair and Square”. The J. Geils Band were Boston-based though their popularity grew internationally. Detroit, Michigan took the band as their own, and their popularity in a northern town primed for electric Blues can be traced back to songs they performed by Albert Collins’ “Sno-Cone” as they shiver and shake on the tune a close-out instrumental. John Lee Hooker’s “Serves You Right to Suffer” makes a slow crawl across the album, and if you are looking for a way to fall in love with the Geils Band it just might be in confessing they are ‘back on Broadway' and “Cruisin’ for Love” again’ in their version of the Juke Joint Jimmy track.