Friday, November 21, 2008

The J. Geils Band – Sanctuary

Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I am a huge JGB fan and this record is another one of the highlights of their career. But then, I love all of the 70’s records, so it’s hard to be objective.

I think this is a bit of a crossover from their solid blues leanings to more of a pop band, but with great tunes. “I Could Hurt You” is pretty pop oriented, but still sounds like J. Geils, especially in the guitar and harp solos. A strong, mid-tempo number with a memorable chorus.

The hit off of the album was “One Last Kiss”, though I guess I wasn’t listening to much radio at the time as I don’t remember hearing this though apparently it broke the Top Forty. This is a minor key piece of bluesiness and emotionalism with excellent instrumental embellishments, such as Geils’ super guitar lines. Again, Magic Dick shines on the harp – his virtuosity is unmatched on his weapon of choice. The entire band works together, though, to create a moody masterpiece.

They switch gears for an r’n’b/pop tune, “Take it Back”. Apparently, this was released as a single as well, but did not chart as high as “One Last Kiss”, despite being considerably more poppy. A good, upbeat tune.

The title track is one of the best here, though. Pounding piano, absolutely vicious harp playing and wild lyrics from Wolf combined with an incessant beat and group vocals make up a movin’ and groovin’ number. Everyone plays terrific on here, from the rhythm section of Stephen Jo Bladd and Danny Klein to Seth Johnson’s keys to Geils perfect, wailing guitar! Breath-taking!

They mellow out for a piano ballad in a minor key in “Teresa”. Nicely done, and Wolf’s singing is particularly intense and heart-felt, but for me it’s not really one of their best. But, they come back in excellent form with the aptly-titled “Wild Man”. Tough and rockin’ with heavy guitars, strong beat and another fantastically distorted harp solo. Bladd adds some poppin’, funky bass lines – a precursor to the slap bass predominant in the 80’s.

“I Can’t Believe You” is a slower, emotional r’n’b number, with enough power from the band to keep it from being ballady. A nice change of pace. But they do another piano-dominated ballad in “I Don’t Hang Around Much Any More”. A good song with a full sound making the backing almost orchestral.

I believe that my fave, though, is the closer, the superbly rockin’ “Jus’ Can’t Stop Me”. High-energy stompin’ starts this off, and when the chuggin’ guitar and harp join in, this just takes off and never lets up! As hot as anything they ever did – this is real, good time rock’n’roll played by some of the best! Incredible!

As I said, this isn’t as traditional as some of their other records, but as long as you can appreciate their blending of styles, this is a terrific slab of r’n’r!