John Geils - guitars; Stephen Jo Bladd - percussion, drums; Seth Justman - keyboard, vocals; Danny Klein - bass; Magic Dick - harmonica; Peter Wolf - vocals
This performance by blues-rock outfit J. Geils Band was captured on March 22, 1980 at the legendary Oakland Coliseum for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. The concert finds the band on the cusp of its greatest success. The group is touring behind its 1980 release Love Stinks, an album that climbed all the way to No. 18 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart.
The group is at its kinetic best, as evidenced by their opener "Jus' Can't Stop Me," the last track from their tenth album, 1978's Sanctuary. From there, they keep the energy up with storming versions of "Night Time," "Just Can't Wait," and "Come Back"—all key tracks from Love Stinks.
John "J." Geils' guitar work is up to his high standard, with his bluesy licks peppering the songs and really bringing them to life. Lead vocalist, the aptly named Peter Wolf, is full of personality and spirit, and he consistently engages the crowd with his quirky banter and passionate vocals. The rhythm section, comprised of drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and bassist Danny Klein, serve as the group's powerful engine room, providing a solid template for Geils, Wolf, keyboard player Seth Justman, and multi-instrumentalist Magic Dick (trumpet, saxophone, harmonica) to play off.
The group sets a party mood, and the audience really responds. This recording makes it clear why J. Geils Band remained a popular touring band for almost 20 years and is still remembered fondly by music fans who know them for more than a certain 1980's radio smash.
Though J. Geils band was best known for their 80s-pop hit "Centerfold," they formed 15 years before the release of said song. In the mid '60s, Worcester, Massachusetts blues guitarist John Geils formed a blues group called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels with Danny Klein on bass and Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz on harmonica. In 1967, the group recruited Peter Wolf to sing and Stephen Jo Bladd on drums, under the moniker the J. Geils Blues Band. By 1970, the group had signed with Atlantic Records, picked up Seth Justman on organ, and dropped "Blues" from their name.
The group released its self-titled debut on November 16, 1970, and it wasn't much of a commercial success. However, it charted in the Billboard Top 200 (No. 195), and gave the band a base to start touring. About half of the disc's 11 songs are covers of songs made popular by famous blues singers, like John Lee Hooker's "Serves You Right to Suffer" and "First I Look At the Purse"—a song co-written by Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers (member of the Miracles), that was made famous by the Contours. Their next album, 1971's The Morning After, shared a similar covers-to-originals ratio to its predecessor, but it was a bigger hit, charting at No. 64 on the charts.
Over the next the next nine years put out more than seven studio albums, two live albums, and a "Best of" disc, but none of them made the commercial dent that their 1981 album Freeze Frame did. Freeze Frame hit No. 1 mostly on the strength of the massive single "Centerfold." The single shot up the charts, hitting the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Though the album was much more radio-friendly and polished than their early work, it retains a touch of the bluesy style of their past, especially in Geils' guitar work.
Only two years after their monster hit, Wolf left the group, citing creative differences. From there, the band began to fall apart. The released the 1984 flop, You're Getting' Even While I'm Getting' Odd, with Justman on vocals and called it a day shortly thereafter. The group has since reformed to play the occasional one-off show, but they show no signs of reforming fulltime.