Friday, June 9, 2017

No One Cares and No One Knows

J Geils Band : Monkey Island


On June 9, 1977 The J Geils Band released Monkey Island, a surprisingly good sampler of everything the band could bring to the stage. So yes, mostly high energy blues-inspired rock. But I've always been struck by the title cut. Like Springsteen's " The E Street Shuffle", it's got a nice instrumental workout at the top that doesn't sound like anything else in the performer's oeuvre. Robert Christgau hated it but the FM stations around Boston played it all the time in '77.

Christgau was kind about everything else, giving Monkey Island a B+:

 For no good historical reason--1977 is hardly the year of white r and b--this marginally offensive boogie cartoon has suddenly put together twenty minutes of music as consistent as side two of its 1970 debut. A hard one and a soft one and a cover and a closet-intellectual one and a pretty good one--that's their gamut, right? Overdisc, the nine-minute title track bombs and the other originals fail to take off, but the band does a number on Louis Armstrong's "I'm Not Rough," splitting the hard part between Magic Dick's harp and J.'s guitar. So give 'em a hand, folks--they earned it. 

The "cover" was "I Do", the song you've probably heard if you've heard any of the songs on Monkey Island. It's a cover of The Marvelows street corner staple. 

The album opener, "Surrender",  is another good song but not as good as the "Surrender" by The Sharks. Maybe The J Geils Band lost their way in '77, but it's one of the most interesting detours of their long career.

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