Before the reformed J. Geils Band embarked on its stadium tour in 1999, the band did a surprise set at Boston's legendary Paradise Theater, the room where Billy Joel tracked his hit "She's Got a Way," where David Johansen videotaped his hit Animals medley, and where bootlegs by Blondie and the Cars were recorded. This double CD showed up on eBay titled Jake Geils Band, perhaps a clever way to get under the net. The recording quality isn't the greatest -- which is surprising these days with DAT machines and mini-discs proliferating and allowing for higher-quality contraband, but it exists, and it is important. In 1972 the legendary live act released Full House, in 1976 the double-LP Blow Your Face Out, and, after they left Atlantic, Showtime was unleashed in 1982 on EMI. In that ten-year period, none of the songs overlap on those eight sides of live material, except for a tease of "Looking for a Love" on Blow Your Face Out, a title released in complete form on Full House. That is just a phenomenal depth of catalog. As one can imagine, they pulled out all the stops on the 1999 reunion tour, and all the hits from all three live albums are included in the set. Truly, this is the "best of" J. Geils. The drummer on this gig was not Stephen Jo Bladd, though he did appear at the press conference prior to the tour launch. Henry Rollins' drummer filled in and did a decent enough job, though Duke & the Drivers' Mark Highlander would have been the perfect choice; he plays with bassist Danny Klein in their own group, Stone Crazy -- the combined rhythm section from Duke and Geils is pure magic. Jake Geils Band: The Reunion is a terrific model for a definitive live album from Peter Wolf and the J. Geils Band. Without dipping into any solo Wolf hits, this performance was over the top -- Wolf was dynamic that night and the band played with enthusiasm that was just bursting at the seams. Had they parked the recording truck outside and rush-released a similar two-disc set on opening week of the tour, who knows what excitement it could have generated for this fabulous and underrated ensemble. The set is perfectly constructed, and if the downside of the layoff was that they never recorded in the years between, the upside is the renewed energy and spirit. "You keep stomping, we'll keep playing, we're going to rock till we drop..." Wolf yells to the crowd, and he meant it. "This is the first time we've played in front of an audience in 17 years," he added, and that reason alone makes the documentation all the more vital. After only 70 seconds of a slow and bouncy "Where Did Our Love Go," the sold-out audience starts singing the tune before the band chimes in! Almost two decades was a bit too long to keep the faithful waiting. The Uptown Horns add nice punch to "Land of a Thousand Dances"; one can only hope there is a better-quality version of this performance out there -- truly an amazing night that, in true bootleg tradition, was found sold on the streets of New York and resold on eBay. Somehow great music finds its way.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2