Friday, November 21, 2008

The J. Geils Band – Blow Your Face Out

The J. Geils Band always shined in a live setting – to this day they are one of the top live acts I have ever seen – and after the success of Full House, there was never any doubt that they would release another show document once they had a chance. I had the privilege of seeing the group on this tour and can attest to their majesty! This is a fantastic record of the band at the height of their power and (in my opinion) with some of their best material.
Ravin’ up the audience right from the start with a bluesy, stompin’ intro, they move into the shufflin’ “Southwide Shuffle” to get the party started! They sound like they’re having a good time and want to bring everyone into the groove with them. The breakdown to “you got to do it, got to do it” is damn near a demand of the audience and everyone seems like they’re ready to join in!

They keep a funky groove going with “Back To Get Ya” which makes it impossible to sit still. Magic Dick gets to show off in this one, as does Geils. The dancin’ rhythms continue in Jr. Walker’s “Shoot Your Shot”, with fantastic dynamic work from the whole group.

Wolf tells a funny story in the liner notes regarding “Musta Got Lost”. He claims the famous rap intro was originally spontaneous and after this album came out he had to listen to the recording to re-learn it because people were requesting the intro! It is great, fun and funny and was a fine piece of theater when I saw them. Wolf literally never stood still for the entire show, and even on the intros he would pace back and forth while rantin’ and rappin’. The song itself is also great with a mid-tempo beat, a sing-along chorus and terrific ensemble playing.

Surprisingly, they do a version of the Supremes “Where Did Our Love Go”, though maybe it shouldn’t be surprising as they are in Detroit! This is done in a blues-rock fashion, with Geils’ slide playing taking the spotlight, but the arrangement is not that different from the original.

Personally, I could live without the country song, “Truck Drivin’ Man”, but I know that others really dug this. It definitely stands out from the rest of the set! Wolf does another cool intro for “Love-itis” which brings the band back to solid ground – bluesy, stompin’, catchy hard rock. I love the tough guitars and the lead trade-offs between Dick and Geils. Even Johnson gets in his licks on this one!

The group does a couple verses of “Lookin’ For a Love” as a slow ballad before moving into "(Ain’t Nothing But a) Houseparty”. When I saw them, they did do this intro, but they moved into a rave up version of the tune to satisfy those of us who loved their first hit. But, I suppose since that appeared on Full House, they didn’t feel the need to reprise it here. “…Houseparty”, of course, is another raver and is even more intense than the studio version. Truly a party condensed into a few minute tune!

Another groove-driven r’n’b blast is “So Sharp” which moves directly into ode to the city they were in, “Detroit Breakdown”. This is another good time, up-tempo rockin’ celebration! I love the extended ending that brings in the audience on the “yeah,yeah,yeah,yeah” chanting. I can picture Wolf dancing and bouncing on his mic stand on this one! Oh yeah, another super piece of theater was at the very ending where they do a sharp stop and the whole band froze until they came back it to blast out the finish. They knew the power of performance!

The mood goes darker for the ethereal “Chimes”, another one of my favorites. Excellent piece of songwriting that allows everyone a chance to stretch out a bit and play with dynamics. Exceptional solos from everyone on this one!

Albert Collin’s instrumental “Sno-Cone” follows and brings everyone back into the rockin’ blues groove and gives Wolf a chance to catch his breath. They follow this with the first song from their first record and one of their first originals, “Wait” – another fun blues-rocker.

A Stax-soul-shouter is given the J.Geils treatment in Eddie Floyd’s “Raise Your Hand”, which was certain to get the audience involved, as well. They do one more slow song, “Start All Over” which just winds people up even more over their then-hit “Give It To Me”. This reggae-influenced tune does jump, but it’s a bit poppier than some of my faves from the group. There’s a rockin’ jam at the end and a call and answer section which closes the record with a bang.

Full House is still the best, but this was another full-tilt blast of J.Geils energy!