By Warren Kurtz
On April 11, we lost J. Geils, founder of Boston’s J. Geils Band. We remember the guitarist with a lively instrumental flip side.
J. Geils Band
Flip side: Whammer Jammer
A-side: Looking for a Love
Top 100 debut: December 4, 1971
Peak position: 39
With two studio albums behind them, the J. Geils Band debuted in the Top 40 in December of 1971. Their single, a remake of the Cleveland R&B group the Valentinos’ 1962 song “Looking for a Love,” showed off their blues-rock style with the catchy vocal line, “Looking here and there, I’m searching everywhere, looking for a love to call my own.” That song, and its flip side, “Whammer Jammer” were both from their second album, “The Morning After.”
“Whammer Jammer” was an exciting, up-tempo song the band could play at their shows, drawing from a variety of blues songs. While the single only lasted a couple of weeks in the Top 40, it was enough to get the band plenty of concert bookings.
In April of the following year, the sextet sold out two nights at Detroit’s Cinderella Ballroom, and from those shows, their live album “Full House” was created. The 1972 album was comprised of six songs from their first album plus both sides of the 1971 Top 40 single. The live version of “Whammer Jammer” blended right into the next track, “Hard Drivin’ Man” which showcased a guitar plucking technique from J. Geils. From “Full House,” a non-charting single was released of “Hard Drivin’ Man” with “Whammer Jammer” again as a flip side.
While the J. Geils Band had four singles in the Top 40 in the ‘70s, the most successful ones being “Must Have Got Lost” and “Give it to Me,” their biggest success came in the early ‘80s. In late 1981, a year after “Love Stinks,” their single “Centerfold” debuted in the Top 40 and spent six weeks at number one in the winter of 1982. This was followed by “Freeze-Frame,” which reached number four that year.
In 2005, an American version of the British film Fever Pitch debuted, with Drew Barrymore and future Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon as its stars. The baseball themed love story was centered on the Boston Red Sox. Bands from Boston were included on the soundtrack including the J. Geils Band. During a two minute scene showcasing Fenway Park, the entire live version of “Whammer Jammer” from the “Full House” album was featured.