- Artist and guitarist Paul Shapiro founded The Hallucinations in 1964.
While running a frame shop for the Child’s Gallery on Newbury Street he met Stephen Jo Bladd, who at the time was framing for Boris Mirski’s Bunnell Frame Shop.Steve bought a set of drums so he could jam with Paul. Steve’s friend Doug Slade who played guitar then joined. They all met up at a party in Brookline Village to play unrehearsed. Peter Wolf made his debut with the band at this party when he sat in to sing and play harp on Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘One Way Out’. Bass player Joe Clark was the last to join.
- Stephen Jo Bladd made up the name ‘The Hallucinations’.
- Drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and Peter Blankfield (Peter Wolf) are both said to have worked at a framing shop on Newbury Street, Boston, MA, along with fellow Hallucinations member Doug Slade.
- “The Bathroom Tapes” – Four songs produced at Peter’s apartment in the Queensberry St/Newbury St. section of the Back Bay of Boston. Urban legend has it that Barry Tashian of The Remains who lived in the same building was in the room at the time of the recordings. Called “The Bathroom Tapes” because of the echo utilized off the walls in the bathroom of Peter Wolf’s apartment. More material was recorded at an M.I.T. classroom allegedly on Peter Wolf’s reel-to-reel Webcor Taperecorder. One tune was played on 93.7 WCGY in 1992 when Peter Wolf appeared on “The Demo That Got The Deal” radio show. ‘Messing With The Kid’ perhaps? (It is now believed that Pete was talking about how they got the EMI America deal and a song from the LP ‘Sanctuary’ was played.
- Muddy Waters and his band occasionally lived with Peter Wolf while performing in the New England area.
- The self titled debut LP ‘The J.Geils Band’ was recorded in three-and-a-half-days.
- The second LP ‘The Morning After’ was recorded in eight days.
- The original title for the 1972 LP ‘Live’ Full House was supposed to be ‘Blow Your Face Out’ (The name later given to their 1976 live double LP).
- The album cover for ‘Live’ Full House was conceived and designed by Peter Wolf and Stephen Jo Bladd
- The mystery behind the ‘winking’ Queen card on the cover of ‘Live’ Full House. As all of us know a Full House is 3 cards the same suit and 2 cards the same suit for 5 cards total. The Queen is winking because she is a
“Wild Card” making the Full House of 3 Jacks and 2 Kings.
- Etched on the vinyl on side-2 of the Bloodshot LP it says “Nice To See Your Face In The Place”. Not on the UK pressing though.
- The painting on the cover of ‘Ladies Invited’ is of Faye Dunaway’s eyes and lips. Painted by artist Antonio in Paris, France.
- 14 Harmonica overdubs were used on the track ‘Givin’ It All Up’, From the LP ‘Nightmares… And Other Tales From The Vinyl Jungle’.
- Peter Wolf married Faye Dunaway on August 9th, 1974.
- Faye Dunaway’s favorite Geils song is ‘Musta’ Got Lost’.
- Etched on the vinyl on side-2 of the Hotline LP it says “When can we go to Miami”?.
- A photo of the ‘real’ funkyjudge Mr George Jessel can be seen on the inside cover of the double LP ‘Blow Your Face Out’.
- It took 9 months to record the LP ‘Monkey Island’.
- The title track ‘Monkey Island’ is about Atlantic Records (listen to the lyrics). The band knew that this was their last LP with them before they even recorded it.
- For the ‘Monkey Island’ LP, the band changed their name to just ‘Geils’. This was to show that they were moving in a new direction and for the hardcore fans who always referred to the band as Geils anyway. What they found was that the new name got more press than the music they were putting out. Both fans, press, and promoters kept assuming that the name change showed a lack of confidence by the band in itself, so after a short while they went back to the full J.Geils Band name.
- ‘Monkey Island’ was the 12th most played album in the United States during 1977.
- During a show at The Warehouse in New Orleans, Peter Wolf got covered in cake during a song
- Up to the release of ‘Sanctuary, the stage area the band played on would be covered with a huge blue carpet.
They carried this with them for every show. From ‘Sanctuary onwards, they changed to a red carpet.
- To celebrate the release of their first LP with new label EMI-America. The Geils Band thanked local writers, radio programmers and record retailers for their support with a four-hour boat ride around Boston harbor.
- The J.Geils Band played Philadelphia on December 31st, 1978. At that show a marching band played the theme from “Rocky” as Peter rode on stage in a motorcycle side-car. That was the beginning of the set, and as the marching band crossed the stage and started to exit, Geils struck up the opening chords of “Jus Can’t Stop Me”.
- Peter Wolf removed his beard in February 1979.
- On May 26th 1980 The Geils Band played at the PinkPop festival in Holland. A couple of days before the band got together in London. Seth, DK, J. Stephen and Dick were shocked when they saw Peter with a black eye. Wolf was beaten up by a couple of Irish guys in a London pub because he talked too much. Quote: Wolf had gone into a London pub soon after hitting the capital and inadvertently stumbled onto a scene resembling a saloon free-for-all. Wolf wasn’t directly involved but the whloe thing spilled out onto the streets and in Wolf’s own words, “the odds were not as beneficial as one might have liked. I mean it had nothing to do with me, but well, when push comes to shove, I don’t like being pushed, so i got in there. When they (United Artists in London) heard about it they said ‘how could you do this Wolf?’ I said @#%$ this, I’m not coming to London to sit in some poofy restaurant, ordering some 1961 Rothschild. I want to be in a pub” When the reporter visited Wolf at his Montcalm hotel his left arm was in a loose sling, he was walking with a limp and his left eye was badly damaged.
- The band chose ‘Angel In Blue’ as the first single from the ‘Freeze Frame’ album but the record company wanted Centerfold as the first single. The video for ‘Angel In Blue’ was filmed before ‘Centerfold’.
- ‘Insane, Insane Again’ was the original title for ‘Freeze-Frame’.
- The J.Geils Band became the first rock act to completely sell out three nights at The Boston Garden.
- Between September 14th 1981 to September 15th 1982, the J.Geils Band played 149 shows in 115 different cities including 39 shows in 12 different countries.
- On 27th July, 1982 at the Carlton Hotel, London, during the European leg of the Rolling Stones tour when Geils was the main opening act. A new band was formed called The (Original) Carltones with Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Wolf, Geils and Justman plus Bobby Keys. They performed ‘Doo Wap’ to celebrate Mick Jagger’s birthday which was the day before.
- Centerfold was the 4th top selling single in Australia in 1982.
- Centerfold was the 8th top selling single Worldwide in 1982.
- Freeze-Frame was the 19th top selling LP Worldwide in 1982.
- Etched on the vinyl of Peter Wolf’s solo single ‘OO-EE-Diddley-Bop!’, it says “Do the funky walk”.
- The original title of Peter Wolf’s LP Lights Out was Dancing In The Dark.
- Seth Justman produced Debbie Harry’s second solo LP, 1986’s Rockbird, co-writing three tunes with Blondie herself — “Buckle Up,” “You Got Me in Trouble,” and “Free to Fall”.
- Danny Kleins new band Stoncrazy performed a Christmas party at Aerosmith’s nightclub, Mama Kin, taped for television in December of 1998.
- Rehearsals for the 99 Reunion Tour were held in a warehouse on the Somerville/Charlestown line, Charlestown, MA.
- The first songs that the band rehearsed for the 99 Reunion Tour were ‘Be Careful’ by Chicago Bluesman John Brim and is on the Hotline Album. Then came 2 Little Walter songs and then came the following: ‘First I Look At The Purse’, ‘Lookin’ For A Love’, ‘Sanctuary’, ‘Love Stinks’ and lastly ‘Musta’ Got Lost’.
- Friday May 21, 1999. The J.Geils Band appear on CBS’s ‘Late Show with David Letterman’. They perform ‘Looking For A Love’ & ‘Centerfold’ (most of Centerfold is performed during the last break).
- On the Today Show video in 1999 for the “Reunion Tour”, Peter, during the performance goes to the side of the stage and kisses a bald headed man on the top of his head. It is in fact, the one and only Mr. Jim Donnelly (Bluestime manager and the original road manager of The J.Geils Band) minus the hair but sporting a beard, however he lost the beard during the “Reunion Tour”.
- When asked “Why after 17 yrs. is the J. Geils Band getting back together for a reunion tour? “, Wolf replied “It’s Shinola !!! (American Shoe Polish) Well, it was a big battle between Shinola and Yoo-Hoo Soda…..No actually we have no corporate sponsor.”
- When asked “Who is the corporate sponsor for the Bands reunion Tour? “, Wolf replied “In 72 we did this deal with The Mafia. It’s payback time, and there’s gonna be broken legs if we don’t.”
I was seventeen when my father taught me the facts of life.
Not those facts, silly! My mother taught me the facts of life right after my first menstrual cycle. By the time I was seventeen I’d already fucked both traditional genders and had started down the dark and delightful path to sexual domination.
No, these were the facts of life about studio bands and live bands.
It must have been a Saturday afternoon after a show, because I was bragging about some band I’d seen the night before with my fake ID and how they really whipped up the crowd. My father smirked and asked, “You never saw J. Geils. Time for a little lesson in crowd-whipping.”
I love my father’s gift for phrasing!
He played me Live: Full House by The J. Geils Band. I’d heard snippets before, but hadn’t paid much attention. I’d always dismissed live recordings, because they never seemed to capture the energy I felt when I heard live music, and often the live versions of my favorite songs ruined them for me.
This was different. The record was high-energy, crowd-whipping, shake-your-fanny fun. I could really feel their energy and the experience was definitely a revelation for me.
“Wow! Thanks for the lesson, Dad,” I said, and started to leave the room.
“The lesson’s not over,” he said, and put on another record.
I sat back down and listened. I knew it was The J. Geils Band because I’d just heard six of the same songs performed live. Those same songs all sounded deader than a dysfunctional dick.
“Oh, my God, what happened to them? Were they sick? Are you sure these are the same guys?”
“Same guys, same songs. Some bands are studio bands, some bands are live bands, some do both. J. Geils is a classic case of a live band. They need the crowd for a kick-start. I bought that album, their first studio album way back when, played it once, and put it in my reject pile to trade it in for something better on my next trip to the record store. Then they showed up at The Fillmore right before it closed, on a bill with Eric Burdon & War. Eric never had a chance. J. Geils blew him away. Same thing happened a couple of years later when I saw them with Loggins & Messina when those guys were at their peak. Buried them alive.”
Until Sonny Landreth came along with Grant Street, Live: Full House was my favorite live album. Yes, I like it even better than Live at Leeds, everyone’s model of a live album. Personal tastes are what they are, but except for Roger Daltrey, I never considered The Who very sexy, and I could have fucked all the guys in the J. Geils Band when they were in their prime. ‘Nuff said!
After the “Are you ready to rock and roll?” intro from the emcee, the band bursts into action with Smokey Robinson’s “First I Look at the Purse,” the sister song to Barrett Strong’s “Money” in the genre of naked greed music. The Contours get credit for the original, a surprisingly sanitized version that doesn’t square with the carnal energy they had displayed on their signature hit, “Do You Love Me?” In the hands of Peter Wolf and company, the raw undertone of the song comes through, hot, heavy and with no apologies for the blatant capitalist exploitation of a broad. Stephen Bladd rocks out on the drums, Daniel Klein beats that bass, and Magic Dick gets into the act with a soulful piece of harp.
Without stopping to breathe, the band proceeds to Otis Rush’s “Homework.” The original is, oddly enough, more famous for its killer horn arrangement than Otis’ guitar or vocal. The J. Geils Band has a lot of fun with it, with Peter Wolf’s intro to the “College of Musical Knowledge” setting the stage for an ironically melodramatic vocal that sounds great and makes you want to laugh at the same time. J. Geils delivers a solid solo, more on the rock side than the blues side, and Seth Justman’s subtle organ adds to the soulful melodrama of the moment.
There’s a brief pause where Peter Wolf introduces the next song as “Take Out Your False Teeth, Mama, I Want to Suck on Your Gums,” but is in fact Big Walter Price’s “Pack Fair and Square.” The original here was sort of a “big band blues number” that sounds like something that Lloyd Price would have been comfortable recording, maybe as a B-side to “Personality.” In J Geils’ hands it’s two-and-half-minutes of accelerated adventure, punctuated with another sweet harp solo by Magic Dick and the always spot-on rough harmonies from drummer Stephen Bladd.
We’ve had two teasers so far, so it’s time to let Magic Dick take center stage with the licking stick. The most influential harmonica piece of its era, “Whammer Jammer” is a flat-out fucking gas, a virtuoso performance combining high energy, sensitive touch and not a little bit of showmanship. Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone claimed that Magic Dick was possibly “the best white musician to ever play blues harmonica,” conveniently forgetting about Charlie Musselwhite and primarily revealing that Dave Marsh is a racist asshole. Magic Dick and Charlie were and are great harmonica players, Little Walter and Sonny Terry were great harmonica players, so let’s just enjoy what they gave us instead of comparing them or worrying about what the fuck color they are. If I could only listen to one, of course it would be Little Walter, but that doesn’t take anything away from Magic Dick. I love them both! Even Mary Wells said you could have two lovers!
Stunningly, “Whammer Jammer” proves to be a warmup for the showstopper, the original composition, “Hard Drivin’ Man.” I’ve rarely heard a more exciting performance from anyone, ever. Here all the boys in the band are clicking, with Seth Justman’s piano touches, Steven Bladd’s outstanding drum work and J. Geils’ chicken-picking. But Peter Wolf is the guy who takes control of that crowd, teasing them, sucking them in and driving them into a frenzy. That fabulous passage where he calls out the names of various dances before announcing “We got the Detroit Demolition here for you tonight!” and the band kicks in at full power and high speed, driving that sucker with the foot on the gas pedal all the way to the finish line . . . baby, that’s what’s rock ‘n’ roll is all about!
This is where I think they made a bit of a mistake in the setlist, because there’s no fucking way you can follow that rendition of “Hard Drivin’ Man.” Although they do a fine version of John Lee Hooker’s slow blues number,”Serves You Right to Suffer,” it feels like a bit of a letdown, even with Magic Dick’s exceptional solo, some clever organ work from Seth Justman and J. Geils’ best guitar work on the album. Even when they ramp up the speed on “Cruisin’ for Love,” it still seems we’ve slowed down. Momentum matters, people!
They recapture that momentum with the final song, “Looking for a Love.” Originally recorded by The Valentinos, more famous for giving the world the Womack brothers than anything else, the original is vengefully sexist, for the “love” the singer is looking for is someone who will fix his fucking breakfast and do the fucking housework. Up your ass, dude! Peter Wolf removed most of the sexist lyrics (except he still wanted his breakfast), and though the song isn’t the all-out driver that “Hard Drivin’ Man” is, he’s the guy who rescues it with his dramatic cries of “Somebody help me!” The song does get into fifth gear in the final passage, when Peter and Stephen harmonize on the repeated word, “lookin’,” Magic Dick blows that harp for all it’s worth and the band goes all out to the finish.
Although I never cared for their studio work, and really disliked the stuff from the “Centerfold” period, I would give anything to go back in the time machine and see these guys at their peak. Live: Full House gives us some great musicians whipping the shit out of a crowd in an orgy of R&B-based rock. There’s no meaning, there’s nothing to think about . . . it’s just the magic of no-holds barred rock ‘n’ roll at its best.
Posted in: 1970's, Classic Music Reviews | Tagged: altrockchick, Big Walter Price, Charlie Musselwhite, female blogger, female music blogger, J Geils Band, J. Geils, John Lee Hooker, Magic Dick, music reviews, Peter Wolf, Seth Justman, Smokey Robinson, Sonny Landreth