• Robert Scovill

J. Geils Band Live "Full House"

Detroit isn't named "Rock City" by accident.

"I call it a “Detroit Thing”. I can’t explain it in words, but it’s just a feel and approach, and the J. Geils Band had it in spades."

December 13th, Good morning rock and rollers and welcome to “Throttle It-Thursday”!! Okay, I think we all might need a great live record this morning to re-energize our shopping mojo and get us to the finish line. Today’s selection is J. Geils “Full House”

Man, J. Geils Band was such a great band to see live. I mean they just had this “thing” that a lot of other bands did not have. They had the ability to make you “believe it” immediately. Their music came from a very authentic place and I think that was true for every member of the band. There was never ever a sense that they weren’t completely consumed by their love of music and playing. I know they’re originally from Boston, but they had this thing that I can point out every time I hear it, but can’t describe what it is. I call it a “Detroit Thing”. I can’t explain it in words, but it’s just a feel and approach, and the J. Geils Band had it in spades. (see what I did right there?)

It’s funny and very cool what a conversation starter music can be. It has the ability to immediately glue complete strangers together. While listening to this album this morning I kind of took note and reminisced about it, especially with regard to J. Geils. For example; I distinctly remember having a conversation with Detroit native, the late Skip Guildersleeve in my very first days of mixing for Rush. Somehow, and I don’t remember exactly what started it, but the topic of J. Geils Band came up. And just like that, at the snap of a finger, a relationship that was at first a bit distant and guarded suddenly became very open and energized when he figured out that I not only knew who J. Geils Band was, but thought very highly of them. It was the beginning of many many conversations that centered on music of which he was one of the biggest music history buffs I have met to date. It was magic.

Fast forward about 30 years, and while on tour with Petty we had Peter Wolf as an opening act for a short stint of shows on the 2017 tour. While on Tom’s bus in one of our pre-show chats the conversation turned to Peter Wolf. Tom stated “We opened for them early on and I sat side of the stage and watched that guy every night after our set. I stole every single one of his moves” I just sort of sat back and took it all in. It was an AMAZING conversation and his reverence for Peter was VERY real and on full display.

The topper for that little run of shows came at Forrest Hills. I think it was the final show that we had Peter as an opening act. He just very casually sauntered out to the FOH position after their sound check, pulled up a chair and started a conversation with me. I had no idea he even knew who I was. He did. Called me by name. Introduced himself as if HE was a total stranger. Humble to Nth degree. He could not have been more engaging and complimentary about how much he loved the way I mixed Tom’s music and show. We went on to speak about music in general and shows that I had seen by J. Geils band while I was living in St. Louis. He went on and on about how much he loved that city and the fans there. The conversation ended and about an hour later, I watched a 70 plus year old man walk on stage, throw down his electric stage moves and sing his heart out. The audience totally bought in from the first note. Yeah, it’s a “Detroit Thing” alright. I hope I have even HALF of what he’s got when I’m 70.

Okay, back to the record. Sorry, the memories just kind of came flooding in right there. This excellent sounding record is filled with great performances. I love the live J. Geils version of “First I Look At The Purse” This record was recorded in 1972 at the Cinderella Ballroom in Detroit by Geoffrey Hallam using Metro Audio Mobile with special assistance by “Juke Joint Jimmy”. I mean, how can you not love that right? Come on now, that’s clearly a “Detroit Thing”.

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