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Back home to the blues

By Magic Dick and Jay Geils

Rounder Records: 1994

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This review first appeared in the October 1, 1994 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

What, you might ask, are Jay Geils and Magic Dick, the heart of the J. Geils Band, doing on independent Rounder Records?

Well, they're about as far away from that band's Top 40 hits like "Freeze Frame" and "Love Stinks" – both musicially and remuneratively – as one can get. If you dig the blues (or the J. Geils Band's first, highly R&B-influenced album) you'll really like this new outing.

While Magic Dick (Richard Salwitz) was always one of the more highly regarded harmonica players in the rock world, the blues really allows him to stretch out and show the full range of his abilities. Geils, too, is a superb instrumentalist whose talents were never given full rein in the band that bore his name. Here, he lays down some meaty solos and fills on electric guitar the likes of which were rarely heard in the band.

The songs are mostly covers, taking in material by Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. Geils and Dick are back where they started 20 years ago as a Boston-area bar band, putting out some great versions of some great music.