The lead out single was the infectious, anthemic rock n’ roll offering, ‘Centerfold’. The song was rawness dressed in sleekness, a diametrically opposed combination that strikes the perfect pop-rock balance. The song was written and produced by the band’s keyboardist Seth Justman. ‘Centerfold' debuted on the U.S. Hot 100 at #70 in the first week of November ‘81. Thirteen weeks later it was sitting atop the U.S. charts at #1, replacing ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ by Hall & Oates (see previous posts). ‘Centerfold’ captured the classes attention at #1 for six weeks in total, before being replaced by ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’ by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts - see previous post. The song was backed by an eye catching promotional video, set in a classroom of scantily clad female models, presumably under the tutorship of Peter Wolf. I can recall whistling and singing the incredibly catchy chorus melody - “na na nana na nah, angel is a Centerfold” - hardly does it justice in black font, but you get the idea. ‘Centerfold’ also revealed all at #1 here in Australia (UK#3) for one week during March of ‘82, replacing ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell, and in turn being replaced by ‘What About Me’ by Moving Pictures - see previous posts for both artists.
Single #3 was ‘Angel In Blue’ (US#40/UK#55), a new wave glossed slice of doo-wop. The source album, ‘Freeze-Frame’, reached #1 on the U.S. album charts (UK#12/OZ#21) the same week that ‘Centerfold’ hit the top of the Hot 100, and eventually went platinum - the only platinum accredited disc of J. Geils Band’s career. The album fitted perfectly into the new wave movement that was so dominant at the time, but there was enough original J. Geils Band DNA in the mix to keep long time fans interested.
Despite achieving commercial nirvana on their last studio album, all was not well within the J. Geils Band camp (this one time at band camp). More specifically the partnership between core writers Peter Wolf and Seth Justman was not in a good shape. Justman had been the prominent member of the team on ‘Freeze-Frame’, composing five of the nine tracks without Wolf’s input. It was a long bubbling dispute that had intensified and came to a head when the band refused to record some material Wolf had co-written with Don Covay and Michael Jonzun. Neither side would back down, and in the end Wolf was asked to leave the band in the middle of a recording session.
His follow up album, 1987’s ‘Come As You Are’ (US#53), almost matched the performance of ‘Lights Out’, with the title track single again striding into the U.S. top 20 (#15/OZ#72), with a minor follow up hit in the form of ‘Can’t Get Started’ (US#75).
Wolf then parted ways with EMI, but kept on recording albums, from 1990’s ‘Up To No Good’, through to 2010’s ‘Midnight Souvenirs’ which peaked at #45 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, showing Peter Wolf had lost none of his commercial appeal. Wolf continued to tour as a solo act, and in time would reunite with his old band mates on stage.
The band’s last released recording, and foray into the lower reaches of the charts was the single ‘Fright Night’ - US#91, in 1985, from the film of same name. Given the departure of front man and key stylistic navigator, Peter Wolf, it was almost a given that the J. Geils Band ground to halt after just one more album together. ‘Magic Dick’ Salwitz and J. Geils reunited in 1993 to form a blues band called Bluestime, and recorded two albums, ‘Bluestime’ and ‘Little Car Blues’, whilst other band members pursued various and sundry solo projects.