10 J. Geils Band Songs Fans Love

J. Geils Band Songs

Photo: By Premiere Talent Associates (management) (eBay item photo front photoback) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Not many people probably know that the origins of the J. Geils Band began with a group called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels. In the mid to late 1960s, founding member John J. Geils, bass player Danny Klein, and harp player Richard Salwitz formed the Camels while still in college. During the next two years, the original three would recruit musicians from other bands, including Peter Wolf, Stephen Bladd, and Seth Justman. As the band grew popular in Boston, they changed their name to the J.Geils Blues Band. In 1970, they signed with Atlantic Records and set sail on a spectacular career.

The J. Geils Band was known for its blues-inspired, rooted sound that merged with rock and roll rhythms. It was a cast of great musicians who could sing and play with the best of them. The band went from cult status in the 1970s to mass cultural stardom when their songs “Freeze Frame” and “Centerfold” went into heavy rotation on MTV in the early 1980s. From their debut album in 1970 to their final release in 1984, the band released 11 great rock and roll soul-infused albums that still sound great in 2017.

For our list of top 10 J. Geils Band songs, we picked 10 of our favorites. Like any list, it’s purely subjective and a fun exercise. For those who may not be familiar with the band, we hope this J. Geils Band Songs list serves as a great introduction to one of the best bands of the 1970s and 80s.

# 10 – [Ain’t Nothin’ but A] House Party

It’s fitting to start out our Essential J. Geils Band songs list with this good-time party song, “[Ain’t Nothin’ but A] House Party.” This was a big Boston favorite.  The song was released on the album Bloodshit. The album was released in 1973. We love the multiple solos at the two-minute mark. This one keeps getting hotter and hotter as it moves along, like any good time party, if you know what I mean. Listen to Peter Wolf scream at the end.

# 9 – Orange Driver

If there was ever any doubt that the J. Geils Band was, at heart, a pure blues band, listen to this one. The remarkable Eddie “Guitar” Burns song “Orange Driver” was recorded by the J. Geils band for their 1975 LP Hotline. Peter Wolf howls for the moon on this one. J.Geils lights it up on guitar, and Magic Dick plays the harp like a mad bluesman. You will play this one over and over again.

# 8 – Angel In Blue

The great J.Geils Band song “Angel In Blue” shows off a different side of the band. No matter who you were as an artist in the 1970s and 1980s, you could not help but be inspired by the power of Bruce Springsteen. The J. Geils Band was no exception. You can hear it on this great track that echoes the spirit of Springsteen, with a little Tom Petty thrown in for good measure.

# 7 – Just Can’t Wait

The excellent album that brought us “Love Stinks” and “Come Back” also gave us a great track called “Just Can’t Wait.” The song’s Farfisa organ lick was very symbolic of the sound of the early 1980s, when all styles of music were merging into a new wave-type sound. Bands like The Records, The Jam, The Cars, Madness, The Slits were all fusing musical styles into their own unique sounds. J. Geils Band stayed close to their blues rock sounds, but you can hear the influence of the times in the keyboard work on this great song.

# 6 – Must Of Got Lost

There are sing-along songs, and then there are great sing-along songs. The J. Geils Band’s excellent track “Must Of Got Lost” is one of those great sing-along songs. It’s got that great hook in the chorus that is simply unforgettable. The song was released on the J. Geils Band album Nightmares…and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle. The album was issued in 1974. The track “Must Of Got Lost” was one of the most successful J. Geils Band songs of their career. The song reached the Number 23 on the Billboard pop charts in 1975.

# 5 – Flamethrower

How can you not love the opening drum and guitar licks on this smoking track from the J. Geils Band? “Flamethrower” is one of the hottest J. Geils Band songs ever released. (no pun intended). With a bit of a Nile Rodgers guitar groove, the J. Geils Band delivered big time on this one. The song was released on the band’s most successful album, Freeze Frame. The song was the opening track on side two of the record. In the early 1980’s, “Flamethrower,” also became a famous dance cub track.

# 4 – Centerfold / Freeze Frame

Well, it would be entirely wrong to compose a list of top 10 J. Geils Band songs and leave off any of these very successful ones. Both songs were such massive hits for the band that we decided to tie them together. Much has been said about MTV’s role in promoting these songs with the constant airplay of both. However, these were such great songs that they would have probably been pretty successful without the MTV push.

Keyboardist Seth Justman composed every song on the album. His keyboard work and great riffs fueled a sound that seemed to dance between the modern-day styles of Squeeze back through the Beatles and Beach Boys and landing in the blues of James Cotton and Little Walker. It was a fantastic sound that captured a mass cultural audience and cemented a legion of new fans.

# 3 – Love Stinks

Classic Rock has delivered some tremendous lyrical lines in its past that we have all used repeatedly to represent our own lives at what point or another. Can you name one person you know who hasn’t uttered the memorable J. Geils Band line, Love Stinks? It’s the perfect line. It makes you feel better, at least for a second. The song lets you know you’re not alone. Yes, it’s what it’s all about for most of us. The only sad thing about this selection is where it leads into our next choice on our essential J.Geils Band songs list

# 2 – Looking For A Love

That’s right, as soon as you utter those magical words, you’re right back out again, “Looking For A Love.” Sorry, we couldn’t help it. Nonetheless, this outstanding track was released on the band’s kicking The Morning After album. Peter Wolf lays it all on the line when he screams, “Somebody help me” at the song’s opening riff. The great drum and piano intro is one for the ages. This is such great stuff. The brilliance of this band shines in the song’s middle 16 when all the musicians take turns soloing and then meet at the end for a great closing lick. Perfection!

# 2 – Give It To Me

As we come almost to the end of this fun list, we turn to a huge fan favorite called “Give It To Me.” The song was released in March 1973 as a single from their album Bloodshot. The song stands out for its unique mix of rock, funk rock, and reggae fusion. The track was recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City. The songwriting duo of Peter Wolf and Seth Justman were the creative forces behind “Give it to Me,” crafting a piece that would become one of the band’s most memorable works.

“Give It to Me” achieved significant success on the charts, marking a milestone for The J. Geils Band as their first single to break into the Top 20 in the United States. It peaked at number 30 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and reached number 15 on the U.S. Cash Box Top 100. In Canada, the song also made an impact, securing the 39th spot on the RPM Top Singles chart.

The release featured “Hold Your Loving” as its B-side, complementing the A-side with more of the band’s engaging sound. The single was available in two versions: the full album version, which is 6:32 minutes long, and a shorter single edit, lasting 3:07 minutes, making it more accessible for radio play and listeners. Below is the live version which is a little faster than the studio version,

 # 1 – Whammer Jammer

At first, we had a tough time picking the recording of “Whammer Jammer” to land in the number one spot on our 10 Essential J.Geils Band Songs list because the track is void of a Peter Wolf vocal. However, the track was so strong in defining the heart of this incredible band that we could not let that get in our way. “Whammer Jammer” is rocking blues at its best. It stands up against any Allman Brothers BandLynyrd Skynyrd, Foghat or Led Zeppelin instrumental. It’s that good of a performance. You might disagree, but we don’t care; we are putting our foot down. This one rocks higher than the Kangchenjunga Mountains. The song was released on the band’s second album entitled The Morning After.

Top 10 J.Geils Band Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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