Through the '70s, Boston's J. Geils Band earned a potent cult following for their high-energy fusion of rock & roll and rhythm & blues without making much of an impression on the album charts. That all changed in 1978, when the J. Geils Band moved from Atlantic Records to EMI-America and keyboard man Seth Justman began crafting a new sound for the group that was poppier but still powerful. Released in 1978, Sanctuary launched a comeback for the group that peaked with the multi-platinum success of 1980's Love Stinks and 1981's Freeze Frame. Icon is an 11-song collection that brings together the biggest and best songs from Geils' tenure with EMI-America, and includes the tracks "Centerfold," "Angel in Blue," "Love Stinks," "Freeze Frame," and "Flamethrower," as well as powerhouse live performances of "I Do" and "Land of a Thousand Dances." Icon is a long way from a definitive look at the J. Geils Band's career, but it delivers the hits that finally made them household names, and shows that beneath the pop sheen they were still a butt-kicking show band that knew how to deliver in the studio and on the stage. (It also wisely avoids the group's subpar final album, 1984's You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd, recorded after lead singer and lyricist Peter Wolf had left the group to go solo.) If you want a concise reminder of the J. Geils Band's years as one of America's most popular rock & roll groups, Icon will deliver the goods.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming