10 Essential J. Geils Band Songs

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 1960’s, founding member John J. Geils along with 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 the Boston area, 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 were known for their blues inspired rooted sound that they merged with rock and roll rhythms. It was a cast of great musicians that could sing and play with the best of them. The band went from cult status in the 1970’s to mass cultural stardom when their songs “Freeze Frame,” and “Centerfold,” went into heavy rotation on MTV in the early 1980’s. 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 top 10 J. Geils Band songs list we picked 10 of our favorites. Just like any list, it’s purely subjective and really just an exercise in fun. 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 1970’s and 80s.

# 10 – Wait

It’s fitting to start out our Essential J. Geils Band songs list with the opening number from the band’s debut album. The very cool song “Wait,” was released on the band’s 1970 album The J. Geils Band. The song’s opening piano line leads into J.Geils complimenting guitar lick opening up the gates to some great harp playing. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome into your life, “The J. Geils Band.”

# 9 – Orange Driver

If there was ever any doubt that the J. Geils Band were at heart a pure blues band, take one listen to this one. The great 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 blues man. 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 your were as an artist in the 1970’s and 1980’s ,you could not help but being inspired by the power of Bruce Springsteen. The J. Geils Band were 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 great 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 1980’s when there were a merging of all styles of music 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 is sing along songs and then there are great sing along songs. The J. Geils Band wonderful 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 spot 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. At the time in the early 1980’s, “Flamethrower,” also became a popular dance cub track.

# 4 – Centerfold / Freeze Frame

Well it would be completely wrong to compose a top 10 J. Geils Band songs list and leave off either of these two very successful J.Geils Band songs. Both songs were such huge hits for the band that we decided to list them tied together. Much has been said about the role that MTV played in promoting these songs with the constant airplay of both of them. However, these were such great songs that they would have been probably still 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 an amazing sound that captured a mass cultural audience and cemented a legion of new fans.

# 3 – Love Stinks

Classic Rock has delivered some great lyrical lines in its past that we have all used time and time again to represent our own lives at what point or another. Can you name one person that you know who hasn’t uttered the memorable J. Geils Band line, Love Stinks? It’s the perfect line. It make you feel better at least for a second. The song lets you know, you’re not alone. Yes, it’s pretty much what’s it’s all about for most of us. The only sad thing about this selection is where it leads into on 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, your right back out there once gain “Looking For A Love.” Sorry we couldn’t help it. Nonetheless, this great 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 on the song’s middle 16 when all the musicians take turns soloing, and then meet at the end for a great closing lick. Perfection!

 # 1 – Whammer Jammer

We had a tough time at first 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 just too 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 not agree, 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© 2021

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