The J. Geils Band made great studio albums, but any fan will tell you that the real magic was seeing them live. The band released three live albums with songs from two of them remaining staples on classic rock radio to this day. As fantastic as those albums are though, they lack the visual component of what made them such a dynamic live band. Hearing manic front man Peter Wolf's performances is one thing, but watching him, not unlike Mick Jagger, is a workout itself. The release of House Party: Live in Germany finally rectifies this with a killer DVD of the band's 1979 performance on the famed German music program Rockpalast.
The band's then latest album, Sanctuary, features heavily in the set list, with six of the first eight songs coming from that release. The show opens with the appropriately titled "Jus' Can't Stop Me," a blistering rocker that sets the tone for the rest of the show. Save for the ballad "Teresa" and the pop track, "One Last Kiss," both signs of things to come with Love Stinks and Freeze Frame, the show rarely eases from this frantic pace. Sanctuary's title track takes an even more menacing approach to its studio counterpart. It's a dangerous rock and roll track that would not feel out of place in the Stones' catalog and Wolf delivers the vocal accordingly.
The second half of the show is filled with Geils classics, and there are many. A driving cover of The Valentinos' "Looking For A Love" begins the proceedings, as the band seemingly shifts into another gear, energy wise. A raucous "Give It To Me" follows. Played much faster than the studio version, it finds the band locked into the song's killer ending groove, with guitarist J. Geils and legendary harmonica player, Magic Dick, trading licks throughout.
Speaking of Magic Dick, he displays his virtuoso harmonica abilities once again on the group's cover of "Whammer Jammer" before the band launches into a powerful "Ain't Nothing But A House Party." The energy and musical prowess displayed by this band is nothing short of remarkable throughout. The group solidifies that claim by ending with a killer version of The Contours' "First I Look At The Purse."
As this concert was broadcast on television some 36 years ago, its video standards are not quite up to today's broadcast quality. That being said, the picture is still very clean and it is presented in the original 4:3 broadcast ratio. Audio options include Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound.
Fans of the J. Geils Band, particularly ones who never got to witness them live, will want to pick up this release. Packed with a great set list and incredibly tight performances, House Party: Live in Germany is a must own.