The J. Geils Band
's sixth studio album, 1975's Hotline
, didn't spawn any hits, didn't reach very high on the charts, and was very true to the band's formula (going back to a mix of originals and covers after two all-original albums). It is also one of their most cohesive, satisfying, and fun albums. Kicking off with one of their live favorites, a barn-burning cover of Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds
' obscure soul nugget "Love-Itis," the disc runs through hard-edged blues, funky soul, rip-roaring rock & roll, and a ballad or two. The bandmembers show no signs of letting down and sound as dedicated to their house-party ethic as ever. Along with "Love-Itis," at least half of the record would have sounded excellent blasting from AOR stations. Why none of them, like the driving "Easy Way Out," the peppy "Jealous Love," and the cold as ice "Mean Love," never got much airplay is a mystery. Elsewhere, the band shows nice restraint on the heartbroken ballad "Think It Over," exhibits blazing blues chops on John Brim
's "Be Careful (What You Do)" and Eddie Burns
' "Orange Driver," and get very funky on "Fancy Footwork." The one song that sounds like their hearts aren't all the way in it, the cover of the Impressions
' "Believe In Me," is still a rollicking good time. This is one of the overlooked gems in the band's catalog, not as strong as their best work but certainly worth many listens.