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The J. Geils Band
Writing Credits:


Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital Stereo
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 68 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 2/24/2015

• CD Copy of Concert
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

J. Geils Band: House Party Live in Germany (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 18, 2015)

Although the J. Geils Band released their first album in 1970, it took them 11 years to become a huge chart success. 1981’s Freeze Frame album sold well and it boasted two big singles, “Centerfold”, and “Freeze Frame”. Both the album and “Centerfold” hit number one in the US.

During the years that led up to these chart-toppers, the band still had the occasional moderate hit, and they became known as a strong live act. For evidence of this, we go to House Party Live in Germany, a concert recorded in April 1979 for the Rockpalast TV series.

Party presents 14 songs, with an emphasis on the band’s 1978 release Sanctuary; that album provides its title tune, “Jus’ Can’t Stop Me”, “I Could Hurt You”, “One Last Kiss”, “Teresa”, and “Wild Man”. From 1974’s Nightmares...and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle, we get “Nightmares”.

1973’s Bloodshot delivers “Ain’t Nothing But a House Party” and “Give It to Me”, while 1971’s The Morning After features “Whammer Jammer” and “Looking for a Love”. The band’s self-titled 1970 debut boasts “First I Look at the Purse” and “Pack Fair and Square”. The Geils Band also covers the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go”, a track they initially released on their 1976 live album Blow Your Face Out.

Since I was 14 when Freeze Frame emerged, it was my first real introduction to Geils. Actually, I knew their 1980 single “Love Stinks” but otherwise I remained unfamiliar with them until their smashes from 1981.

This meant I never got the chance to appreciate Geils in their prime. Lead singer Peter Wolf went solo after the success of Freeze Frame, and that essentially killed the band. Geils put out one 1984 album without Wolf, but it flopped, and that was it for the band as a creative entity. Starting in the late 90s, they reunited for concerts over the years – and as of 2015, they continue to do so – but for commercial purposes, they ceased to exist after the Freeze Frame era.

Does House Party make me wish I’d been able to see Geils in their heyday? Sort of, but not as much as I might have expected. Geils was – and still is – regarded as a top-flight live act, and House Party offers some hints of those talents. However, I just don’t dig the band’s music enough to feel twinges of regret.

Not that this means I dislike what I hear during the 1979 concert. The Geils Band presents a lively blues/boogie-rock set with lots of energy, and the songs are pretty good. If forced to pick a clunker here, I couldn’t do so, as the tracks all seem enjoyable enough.

That said, I also don’t think I could name a song that stands out to me as especially great. To better acquaint myself with the music, I played the CD included in this package a good 10 times before I watched the DVD, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t find myself eager to listen again and again. It’s a good set of songs but nothing here makes me want to explore the band’s back catalog.

Still, I like the music, and the band plays the tracks well. Like I mentioned, House Party boasts a lively concert, and the visual side of things adds some spark. In particular, Wolf proves to be a pretty dynamic front man, as he holds the stage well and adds life to the proceedings.

Since House Party was shot for TV, it manages to depict the concert well. We find a meat and potatoes representation of the show, and that seems fine with me. Nothing about the direction stands out as memorable, but the editing and visual choices complement the proceedings in a positive enough manner.

All in all, House Party works fairly nicely as a concert video. I can’t claim that either the presentation or the music excites me, but the show remains enjoyable from start to finish.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus C-

J. Geils Band: House Party Live in Germany appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1; due to those dimensions, the image has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the show’s origins, it looked okay.

As one might expect from a concert videotaped in 1979, sharpness varied. At best, the program showed fairly nice clarity and delineation, but it could go soft on more than a few occasions. With circa 1979 video capabilities, inconsistent delineation became inevitable, but I found the sharpness to seem acceptable. No shots came across as especially tight, but the image never looked terribly soft either.

Only mild issues with jagged edges and shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. The source depicted rolling bars at times, but those remained moderate; they showed up occasionally but weren’t a consistent distraction.

In terms of colors, the lighting offered the most obvious variation in hues, and these elements tended to be bland. The hues never looked bad, but they lacked much pep and vivacity, as they veered toward the messy side of the street. Blacks were mushy, and low-light shots lacked clarity. Based on its age and origins, this was a watchable show, but it wasn’t better than that.

When I shifted to the disc’s audio, I found three separate tracks. The disc offered Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes. All offered similar soundscapes but they presented varying levels of quality.

To my surprise, the DTS mix sounded the worst of the bunch. Mastered at a high level, it tended to be too loud and “in your face”, so the music lacked much dimensionality. Frankly, the DTS mix gave me a bit of a headache.

While not terrific, the two Dolby Digital tracks worked better. Both showed similar sound quality and represented the music in an adequate manner.

That said, nothing about the audio dazzled, as the songs lacked great range. Highs seemed acceptable and lows showed reasonable warmth, but no parts of the mix came across as especially full or dynamic. Still, the music was fairly clean and accurate when I listened to the Dolby tracks.

Though billed as stereo or 5.1, the various mixes remained essentially monaural. Audio seemed to spread to the sides at times, but this occurred in a vague manner, so the tracks stayed focused on the center. Any use of the surrounds would’ve been incidental as well; these were broad mono mixes and nothing more.

While the DVD itself includes no extras, the packages comes with a CD copy of the concert. It provides the entire tracklist from the show on the DVD.

Finally, we find a booklet. It provides an essay from ClassicRockRevisited.com editor Jeb Wright as well as photos and credits. It adds a little value to the package.

Known for their live shows, we get a taste of the J. Geils Band in their prime via House Party Live in Germany. The 1979 concert doesn’t stand out as a great one, but it brings us a fun, lively performance. The DVD offers average picture, sound and audio. Well-represented by live albums, it’s good to be able to see Geils perform as well, so fans should enjoy this release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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