Best of the J. Geils Band [Capitol]

by: The J. Geils Band

2006's Best of the J. Geils Band is the first single-disc collection to feature songs from the group's tenures at Atlantic and EMI. It would be nice to say it is a definitive look at their career, but perhaps due to the record being released by Capitol (a member of the EMI family), the record is tipped in favor of the group's more commercial, pop-oriented songs of the '80s. In fact five songs come from 1981's smash Freeze Frame, three from 1980's Love Stinks, and two from 1982's live disc Showtime! Add it up and three years account for more than half of the songs here. That may be fine for the casual fan, but anyone who wants a booster shot of the raucous, house party-starting J. Geils Band will be left unsatisfied. There are a handful of classic rockers from the mid-'70s; notably "Whammer Jammer" and "Looking for a Love" from 1972's Live -- Full House and "Must Have Got Lost" and "(Ain't Nothing But A) Houseparty" from 1976's Blow Your Face Out but add the laid-back reggae tune "Give It to Me from 1973's Bloodshot and that's it for the Atlantic years, a move that omits too many great songs to mention here. Surely relatively weak songs like the pseudo-rockabilly rave-up "Piss on the Wall" or the bland ballad "Teresa" could have sacrificed to make room for some more prime J. Geils Band. Granted more people remember the later hits like "Centerfold," "Freeze-Frame," "Just Can't Wait" or "Love Stinks," and you can't deny that they had a run of great pop songs at EMI. Still, a fifty/fifty split on this best of would have done the band more justice. It also would have helped the compilation live up to the "Best" in the title. As it is, the disc is suitable only for the most casual of J. Geils Band fans. Anyone who wants to get the real picture of one of the most exciting, wall-shaking bands of the '70s (with a fair chunk of their later work included) needs to investigate Rhino's two-CD set Houseparty: Anthology instead. ~ Tim Sendra

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