The J. Geils Band were one of the most popular touring rock & roll bands in America during the '70s. Where their contemporaries were influenced by the heavy boogie of British blues-rock and the ear-splitting sonic adventures of psychedelia, the J. Geils Band were a bar band pure and simple, churning out greasy covers of obscure R&B, doo wop, and soul tunes, cutting them with a healthy dose of Stonesy swagger. While their muscular sound and the hyper jive of frontman Peter Wolf packed arenas across America, it only rarely earned them hit singles. Seth Justman, the group's main songwriter, could turn out catchy R&B-based rockers like "Give It to Me" and "Must of Got Lost," but these hits never led to stardom, primarily because the group had trouble capturing the energy of its live sound in the studio. In the early '80s, the group tempered its driving rock with some pop, and the makeover paid off with the massive hit single "Centerfold," which stayed at number one for six weeks. By the time the band prepared to record a follow-up, tensions between Justman and Wolf had grown considerably, resulting in Wolf's departure, which quickly led to the band's demise. After working for years to reach the top of the charts, the J. Geils Band couldn't stay there once they finally achieved their goal.
Pianist Don Friedman's debt to Bill Evans was obvious in the early '60s, particularly on standards, but he also had his own creative spirit to offer. This 1997 CD reissue brings out Friedman's third of four Riverside dates, teaming him with the obscure bassist Dick Kniss and drummer Dick Berk. The pianist shows that he was developing an original voice and was familiar with the avant-garde of the period on such originals as "Ohcre" and "Flashback." In contrast, he swings conventionally but with subtle creativity on "Alone Together," "News Blues" and "How Deep Is the Ocean." A fine, well-rounded set from the underrated pianist.