The J. Geils Band has several hit songs you’ve likely sung along with many times. They received a lot of radio airplay, especially in the 80s.
Like most bands, they had their share of ups and downs during their time together.
In this article, we challenged ourselves to bring you the seven greatest songs from the J. Geils Band. You may just find yourself wanting to give them a listen if you haven’t heard them in a while.
Let’s take a look!
About the J. Geils Band
Formed in 1968 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the J. Geils Band began as a blues-rock band. Throughout the 1970s, their R&B-inspired playing style attracted fans of both rock and soul music.
Founding members included vocalist Peter Wolf, lead guitarist John “J” Geils, bassist Danny Klein, keyboardist Seth Justman, and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd. Rounding out the band was harmonicist and saxophone player Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz.
While their earlier albums were heavily blues-influenced, their sound became more mainstream by the late 70s and into the 80s. Radio stations and MTVR played hits like Centerfold and Freeze-Frame with regularity.
In 1983, Peter Wolf left the band, later citing his displeasure with the musical direction the band was heading. Two years later, after releasing a rather unsuccessful final studio album, the band called it quits.
Between 1999 and 2015, the J. Geils Band performed some reunion shows with all original members involved.
During their 17 years together, the J. Geils Band released 11 studio and three live albums. Let’s look at what we think are the greatest songs from those records.
#7 Whammer Jammer
About the Song: This instrumental features the incredible talents of Magic Dick on harmonica. People who have been playing the mouth harp for years have attempted this song, only to discover how technically complex it is.
YouTube commenter Jim Chumley said, “I have been playing over 35 years and could never do this. Just small bits and pieces.”
This high-energy tune will get your feet tapping, and you may find it hard not to get up and dance.
Greatest Lyric: Whammer Jammer has no lyrics but is heavy on the harmonica.
First Appearance: Whammer Jammer is the second track on the band’s 1971 studio album The Morning After.
#6 Angel in Blue
About the Song: The lyrics tell the story of falling for a dancer in a bar who was once a street prostitute. That kind of life has a way of hardening people, and this woman has a shell that’s hard to crack.
While this song didn’t do as well in the charts as some of their other hits, critics praised it. Reviewer Joe Viglione said it is “arguably the smartest lyric in the J. Geils Band catalogue.”
The backing vocals on the studio version feature Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney Houston) and Luther Vandross.
A table top dancer She would smile on cue Oh those lips of an angel Angel in blue
First Appearance: This J. Geils Band song first appeared on the 1981 album Freeze Frame.
#5 Must of Got Lost
About the Song: Written by vocalists Peter Wolf and Seth Justman, this song is about letting love slip through your hands.
Many songs about heartbreak have an accompanying sad melody to go along with them. But this song isn’t one of them. It’s an upbeat tune to help lift the spirits after realizing you let “the one” get away.
Love can be a sweet thing I just don't understand I made a game of lovin' you And now I hold the losin' hand
First Appearance: The J. Geils Band released this song as a single in 1974. While not an immediate hit, it did reach #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the following year.
#4 Looking For a Love
About the Song: Looking For a Love originated with the early 1960s band, the Valentinos. When they released it in 1962, it became an R&B hit. Nearly ten years later, the J. Geils Band released their cover version.
This energetic song about searching for love has the feel of a revival tune. It might get you up dancing and raising your hands in the air
I`m looking for a love I`m looking here and there I`m searching everywhere I`m looking for a love To call my own
First Appearance: The Valentinos released their original version in 1962. In 1971, the J. Geils Band recorded their version for their second album The Morning After.
About the Song: The J. Geils Band recorded this song as the opening track on their album of the same name. When they released it as a single in 1982, it quickly rose to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remained in that spot for four weeks.
A freeze-frame refers to a still shot from a piece of video. The song was released during the early days of MTV, so the band recorded an intriguing video. Still shots of the band flash between moving images of the band playing in a photo studio.
I could see it was a rough-cut Tuesday Slow-motion weekdays stare me down Her lipstick reflex got me wound There were no defects to be found Snapshot image froze without a sound
First Appearance: The song appears on the band’s tenth studio album, Freeze Frame, released in 1981.
About the Song: What man wouldn’t be surprised to find a picture of their high school crush as an adult in a girlie magazine? That’s exactly what this song is about!
Centerfold performed even better in the charts than its album partner Freeze-Frame. It reached the #1 position, remaining in that spot for six weeks.
Those soft and fuzzy sweaters Too magical to touch To see her in that negligee Is really just too much
First Appearance: This was another hit from the 1981 album Freeze-Frame.
#1 Love Stinks
About the Song: The title sums up what the lyrics are about in this song. We’ve all gone through some form of unrequited love in our lives. Love Stinks is an anthem for when we experience those feelings.
This track has more of a heavy metal feel than many of the other J. Geils Band songs on this list. Lead singer Peter Wolf may have been inspired to write this song after his marriage to actress Faye Dunaway ended in 1979.
I've had the blues The reds and the pinks One thing for sure Love stinks
First Appearance: Love Stinks appeared on the band’s ninth album of the same name, released in 1980.
J. Geils Band Honorable Mentions
Their song Flamethrower may not have been as popular on the charts, but it’s still worth mentioning. It did well on both the Top 40 and R&B music charts.
In an interview, keyboardist and lyricist Seth Justman described his take on the song. “It’s not just about a woman. It’s about a woman factory worker and how she lets loose at night. It’s about a certain spirit that’s in everybody.
Come Back is another honorable mention for the greatest J. Geils Band songs. The band released the track on their album Love Stinks. The song did well in both the US and Canada and remains in rotation on classic rock radio stations.
Which J. Geils Band Song is Your Favorite?
Maybe one of these J. Geils Band hits is your favorite? Or perhaps it’s one of the many other tunes found on one of their 11 albums. The band has an extensive song catalog to dive into and explore for new and longtime fans. Is your favorite J. Geils Band hit missing from our list? Let us know!