J. Geils - guitar; Peter Wolf - vocals; Magic Dick - harmonica; Seth Justman - keyboard, vocals; Danny Klein - bass; Stephen Jo Bladd - percussion, drums, vocals
By the mid-1970s, the J. Geils Band were at the top of their game, having toured extensively for nearly a decade and riding high on their most successful studio albums to date, Bloodshot and Ladies Invited, both released in 1973 and the follow-up, Nightmares...and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle, released the following year. For the first time, the band's studio efforts were becoming as popular as their 1972 live album, Full House, which captured the band on stage in all its high-energy glory.
Although based in Boston, nowhere was the group more popular than in Detroit, where the onstage charisma of front man, Peter Wolf, and the band's dynamic mix of blues, rock, and R&B would whip audiences into a veritable frenzy. Detroit's most popular venue, Cobo Hall, had become like a second home to the band and the wild chemistry that always occurred there made it an ideal location to capture the band on stage. Indeed, the group recognized this as well, as the album that broke them internationally, the aforementioned Full House, was recorded at Cobo Hall and both of the band's subsequent live albums, Blow Your Face Out, released in 1976 and 1982's Showtime, also prominently featured performances captured live at this Detroit venue.
When the King Biscuit Flower Hour pursued the J. Geils Band for their syndicated radio show, they wisely chose to record two additional Cobo Hall performances that occurred in November of 1974, when the group was headlining a tour that included powerhouse rockers, Mountain, as the opening act. Here we present excerpts from the early show of November 3, 1974, as the J. Geils Band once again take Cobo Hall by storm. Presenting three choice cuts from their new album at the time, in addition to a pair of key songs from the previous year, this recording is sure to delight new and old fans alike, capturing the band onstage at a peak moment in their career.
The performance begins with a triple whammy of fresh Peter Wolf/Seth Justman songwriting collaborations from the new studio album, Nightmares... and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle. They kick things off with the keyboard driven rocker, "Gettin' Out," followed by "Must Of Got Lost," the band's current hit single at this time. Geils delivers a nice raunchy solo toward the end of the first number, and Wolf is in good vocal form throughout on the first three numbers while Justman's keyboard contributions are outstanding. Appropriately enough, things continue with the keyboard-driven rocker, "Detroit Breakdown," which for obvious reasons is ideal for the Cobo Hall audience. Here the entire band starts hitting their stride, with Justman all over the place, contributing acoustic piano, funky gurgling synth, and swirling B-3 organ, all tastefully delivered, sometimes simultaneously. Magic Dick wails on the blues harp, Geils burns on an extended guitar solo, and the band doesn't seem to want to stop, as the song contains three false endings, where the band collects its breath for a moment only to take off again.
The last two numbers are standout songs from the previous two albums. Representing the Ladies Invited album is the smoldering blues of "Chimes," clocking in at 10 minutes and featuring impressive extended solos from Geils and Justman and plenty of Wolf's spontaneous "hip DJ on steroids" vocal improvising. However, the best is saved for last as the band deliver a superb and utterly infectious reading of "Give It To Me," a song responsible for making Bloodshot their highest charting album to date. Here rhythm & blues, funky soul, and a tinge of reggae combine into a highly seductive blend that turned this hard working band into one of the hottest and most popular live acts in America.