1982 was a big year for the J. Geils Band Á¢€” after 13 albums, hundreds and hundreds of live shows and a few scattered Top 40 hits, they became overnight sensations with Á¢€Å“CenterfoldÁ¢€ spending six weeks at Number One and Á¢€Å“Freeze FrameÁ¢€ following in the Top Ten.
The Á¢€Å“Freeze FrameÁ¢€ album is a certified 80s classic, no doubt, showcasing a band honed by years on the road firing on all cylinders. Front to back, thereÁ¢€â„¢s not a dud in the bunch Á¢€” even Á¢€Å“FlamethrowerÁ¢€, an album track consigned to the b-side of the Á¢€Å“Freeze FrameÁ¢€ single caught fire (heh) on the Black Singles chart, and itÁ¢€â„¢s easy to see why. Á¢€Å“FlamethrowerÁ¢€ is arguably the hottest (heh) song on the album, a scorching (IÁ¢€â„¢ll stop now) funk number that should have been single number three, not just a b-side. IÁ¢€â„¢ll say that Á¢€Å“FlamethrowerÁ¢€ best represented all sides of the J. Geils Band Á¢€” the Stones-ish blues swagger, the chunky funk, the accessible pop sensibility, all wrapped up in five glorious minutes.
Then it all went to hell.
A power struggle between chief songwriters Peter Wolf and Seth Justman fractured the group the next year. Wolf took his voice and embarked on a solo career, while Justman kept the band and the powerful brand name. 1984 promised a showdown between the two projects.
Peter Wolf struck first with Á¢€Å“Lights OutÁ¢€ and its title track single. Á¢€Å“Lights OutÁ¢€ was a fair success, making the Top 40, but while the voice was unmistakable, there was something bland and studio musician-ish about the whole affair. The spark was missing. I preferred the follow-up, Á¢€Å“I Need You TonightÁ¢€, because it seemed quite contemporary, glossy production and all, and itÁ¢€â„¢s just a better song, really. It scraped the Top 40 as well. Now it was the J. Geils BandÁ¢€â„¢s turn.
Many people donÁ¢€â„¢t want to remember Á¢€Å“YouÁ¢€â„¢re GettinÁ¢€â„¢ Even While IÁ¢€â„¢m GettinÁ¢€â„¢ OddÁ¢€, including presumably the band itself, since itÁ¢€â„¢s mentioned nowhere on their official website. I am here today to say itÁ¢€â„¢s not that horrible. Really. The problem is just that you listen and think, Á¢€Å“Gee this isnÁ¢€â„¢t too bad, but if Peter Wolf was singing it, itÁ¢€â„¢d be so much better.Á¢€ That thought only occurs about twice per song, though. Once you get past that itÁ¢€â„¢s a hooky, kooky little affair that seems a bit Á¢€Å“Freeze Frame 2: Electric BoogalooÁ¢€. In fact lead-off single Á¢€Å“Concealed WeaponsÁ¢€ is almost an exact Xerox of Á¢€Å“Freeze FrameÁ¢€, with a guitar lick stolen from either Á¢€Å“Day TripperÁ¢€ or Killing JokeÁ¢€â„¢s Á¢€Å“EightiesÁ¢€ (take your pick Á¢€” Nirvana would later steal it yet again for Á¢€Å“Come As You AreÁ¢€), another lick lifted from the Á¢€Å“Peter Gunn ThemeÁ¢€, and a melody line so familiar you almost want to sing Á¢€Å“I could see it was a rough-cut Tuesday, Slow motion weekdays stare me downÁ¢€¦Á¢€
The album and single tanked. I remember seeing the album in cut-out bins everywhere soon after its release, where of course I picked it up and kind of enjoyed it. Peter Wolf went on to have a few more hits and sell some more albums while the J. Geils Band went on to record the theme for Á¢€Å“Fright NightÁ¢€ (AWFUL), then call it a day. The band reunited in 1999 for a tour, but when tickets didnÁ¢€â„¢t move, they split again.
WeÁ¢€â„¢ll always have Á¢€Å“FlamethrowerÁ¢€, though.
Á¢€Å“FlamethrowerÁ¢€ peaked at #25 on the Billboard Black Singles Chart and at #30 on the Mainstream Rock Chart in 1982.
Á¢€Å“I Need You TonightÁ¢€ peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 10 and at #22 on the Mainstream Rock Chart in 1984.
Á¢€Å“Concealed WeaponsÁ¢€ peaked at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #26 on the Mainstream Rock Chart in 1984.