Looking for a Love picture sleeve (France)
The J. Geils Band started life in Worcester, Massachusetts in the mid-1960’s as an acoustic blues trio with guitarist John Geils, bassist Danny Klein (a.k.a. Dr. Funk), and harmonica player Richard Salwitz (a.k.a. Magic Dick). They originally went by the name Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels. In 1967, the band changed focus, starting to play electric guitar and bass and adding drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and fast-talking ex-disc jockey Peter Blankenfeld (a.k.a. Peter Wolf). They rechristened themselves the J. Geils Blues Band (later dropping “blues” from their name). About a year later, Seth Justman was added to the lineup as keyboardist. In 1970, they signed a contract with Atlantic Records. Their first album, “The J. Geils Band” (1970), barely dented the charts, but they garnered significant FM airplay with “First I Look at the Purse”, a track off this album. While the band’s first three singles, “Pack Fair and Square”, “Homework” and “Wait”, all failed to chart. Their second album, “The Morning After”, was more successful, peaking at #64 on the Billboard album chart and spawning the J. Geils Band’s first chart hit: “Looking for a Love” b/w “Whammer Jammer”, which not only charted, but cracked the U.S. Top 40, peaking at #39. This is today’s featured single.
Looking For A Love” may not rank as the typical J. Geils fan’s ultimate favorite (although I wouldn’t be surprised if it ranks pretty high), yet in the early days, this cover of a J.W. Alexander/Zelda Samuels song was their signature tune. It barely cracked the Top 40 (peaking at #39), but for a time it was their most popular song both in record sales and in live shows, where their live renditions were even more driving and catchier. [With the release of “Give it to Me” in 1973, the band escaped the distinction of being a one-hit wonder, and several more hits were to follow.] As one reviewer noted, the song starts off with a drum beat which is essentially the drum beat from Janis Joplin’s “Move Over”, only in triple time. Peter Wolf alternates with the band; he makes his case with one line, and the band responds with a line that incorporates the song title: “Stay in my corner/All the way, yeah/I`m looking for a love/To call my own/Stick by me, baby/No matter what they say/I`m looking for a love/To call my own”. The studio version of the song zips along, making it seem shorter than 3 minutes and 45 seconds. A version of the song was included on the live double album of the Mar Y Sol concerts in Puerto Rico (recorded in April 1972), and we also get a great live version on the “Live: Full House” LP. A slowed-down (but much shorter) version of the song is included on “Live: Blow Your Face Out”.
On the other side of the record is the original (studio) version of “Whammer Jammer”. And while this is not the live version of the Juke Joint Jimmy that was the more memorable version of the song, it’s still a great song, and a fitting showcase for Magic Dick’s harmonica-playing talent. Peter Wolf and J. Geils stay back so that Magic Dick can strut his stuff (he is accompanied by Seth Justman’s honky-tonk piano), and the end result is a series of harmonica riffs as memorable as any classic guitar riffs. This is not only a great song, but was the one that ultimately put Magic Dick on the map as the prototypical rock and roll harmonica player, and also served to turn Juke Joint Jimmy (who also wrote “Cruisin’ for a Love”) to something of a legend amongst fans of the band.
This single (catalog #: 2844) was issued by Atlantic Records in 1971. As far as I know, it had the red and black Atlantic label typical of Atlantic singles issued during this era, with the Atlantic logo in red lettering against a black background on the upper half of the label and artist and track information on the bottom half of the label. No picture sleeve was issued with this single in the United States, but some countries got a picture sleeve, as demonstrated by the accompanying picture of the French picture sleeve. The success of this single laid the foundation for a string of successful albums and singles in the 1970’s, with their next studio album, “Bloodshot” (1973), reaching the Top Ten in the U.S., an album which also spawned their second Top 40 hit, “Give it to Me”. While they followed this up with several successful albums, “Monkey Island” (1977), their last album on Atlantic Records, was not as successful as its predecessors, suggesting perhaps that their popularity was on the wane. They responded by adopting a more commercial sound for their debut album with EMI America (without abandoning their blues/rock roots) and recruiting Joe Wissert (producer of Earth, Wind and Fire) as producer. The result was “Sanctuary” (1978), an album that spawned “One Last Kiss”, their first Top 40 hit in four years. They continued moving in this direction with “Love Stinks” (1980), which was even more commercial than its predecessor (and features a more synthesizer-laden sound), and which spawned another pair of Top 40 hits (“Love Stinks” and “Come Back”). This trend culminated in the release of “Freeze Frame” (1981), which saw the band topping the album charts and single charts for the first time (with the single “Centerfold”). Now that they had reached the apex of their commercial success, the band began to fissure from within. The live album “Showtime” (1982) served as a stopgap measure until the band recorded a new studio album, and spawned another Top 40 hit (a live version of “I Do”). Peter Wolf left the band in 1983, citing creative differences. The band did not attempt to replace him; instead Seth Justman took over lead vocal duties. The resulting album, “You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd” (1984) was a commercial disappointment, and by 1985, the J. Geils Band disbanded. Since then, the original six members have reunited three times: once for a 13-date tour of the east coast and upper mid west in 1999, again for bassist Danny Klein’s 60th birthday party in 2006, and for the opening of the House of Blues in Boston in February 2009.