1981 was a great year for AOR. However, there was one other outfit who did remarkably well that year and took everybody by surprise and they were the J Geils Band, who befuddled all with their twelfth album ‘Freeze Frame’.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: J Geils Band
ALBUM: Freeze Frame
LABEL: EMI America
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Peter Wolf – vocals * J. Geils – guitar * Magic Dick – harmonica, trumpet, saxophone * Seth Justman – keyboard, vocals * Danny Klein – bass * Stephen Bladd – drums, vocals
Additional Musicians: Ronnie Cuber – saxophone * Randy Brecker, Tom Malone, George Young, Lou Marini – horn * Alan Rubin – trumpet * Tawatha Agee, Cissy Houston, Fonzi Thornton, Luther Vandross, Ken Williams – backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Freeze Frame * 02 Rage In The Cage * 03 Centerfold * 04 Do You Remember When * 05 Insane, Insane Again * 06 Flamethrower * 07 River Blindness * 08 Angel In Blue * 09 Piss On The Wall
WEBLINKS: Site Link
1981 was a great year for AOR. While the likes of Journey, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon were tipping the charts upside down, there was one other outfit who did remarkably well that year and took everybody by surprise.
And they were Boston based blues rockers the J Geils Band, who befuddled all with their twelfth album ‘Freeze Frame’. The album was released late October of that year, and converted what once was a hard blues outfit into a more mainstream pop/commercial band with an eye on the charts.
Having spent the last decade belting out blues based rockers for Atlantic Records, the J Geils Band moved to the EMI America label, and gradually began to take shape. 1980’s ‘Love Stinks’ was the first real indication of musical change for the band. With producer Seth Justman and engineer David Thoener at the helm, they would join forces again for the ‘Freeze Frame’ sessions with a better idea of how to take it one step further.
As part of the new broom sweeping through, some contemporary changes were incorporated. Notably, power pop/new wave influences filtered through, while the songs were shorter, sharper, and a better fit for radio. By the end of 1981, J Geils Band were making inroads, and by early 1982 they were all over the radio with their first major hit ‘Centerfold’.
The album only contained nine songs, but all are good fun and represent a time when tunes like this were ‘king’.
‘Centerfold’ went #1, and is rumored to be a pointed reference to Peter Wolf’s relationship with model/actress Angel Tompkins back in the early 70’s. Tompkins had been a Playboy centerfold in the February 1972 edition. In any case, the song stayed at the top of the charts for six weeks.
Who could forget the classic organ intro for the title track ‘Freeze Frame’, with camera sound effects, a song that probably kick-started the career of Huey Lewis And The News and enabled a guy like Billy Joel to become more pop-oriented too – just while I’m at it. This song was also successful, getting to #4 in the charts.
The other two well performing songs were ‘Flamethrower’ and the mid-tempo ballad ‘Angel In Blue’, which was initially going to be their lead single, thank goodness for them they changed their minds in favour of ‘Centerfold’. Other songs I enjoyed included the fluid ‘Do You Remember When’ which has definite Blue Oyster Cult reference points, plus the honkin’ energetic ‘Rage In The Cage’.
Least we forget the album closer ‘Piss On The Wall’ which is the band’s take (piss take perhaps?) on the American Political scene at that point in time.
Atlantic Records must’ve been kicking themselves for letting the J Geils Band go, as the sales figures for ‘Freeze Frame’ would have been astronomical at the time. The album spent a month in the #1 position during early 1982, their best ever effort.
The band released two more records: 1982’s ‘Show Time’ which was their third live album, but strangely only contained one song from the ‘Freeze Frame’ LP, plus their fourteenth and final album 1984’s ‘You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd ‘, which was recorded without Peter Wolf who had left the band by this stage.
The J Geils Band have a big discography, if you wish to focus on their more commercial era, start with 1978’s ‘Sanctuary’ and upwards. If you are feeling more adventurous, then wander around all their early 70’s releases. There maybe a diamond in the rough for you to discover.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)