Lookin’ For A Love (1972)

J. Geils Band

Written by J.W. Alexander and Zelda Samuels
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During a streak from 1970 through 1973, The J. Geils Band was as good as any Rock band in the world. Yes – any – including The Rolling Stones at their peak. The only thing that kept them from scaling the final heights to Olympus was the absence of songwriters on the same level as Jagger and Richards. Otherwise, they were as combustible as any group that’s ever played.

“Lookin For A Love” is a song first covered by Bobby Womack’s group The Valentinos. They delivered it in a very old-school R&B style. It is a very good, almost great, piece of work.

The J. Geil’s version, however, is a seismic event.

Out of control

The band featured six guys who could really play and work hard. Their metier was the live performance and the edition of “Lookin’ For A Love” on Full House gives an idea of how explosive, how moon-dog crazy these guys were.

Frontman Peter Wolf, who was married to Faye Dunaway for a time, went up from the Bronx to study the masterpieces at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He brought with him a streetwise patter that is best described as proto-Rap. He became a late-night DJ on the “underground” FM powerhouse WBCN, now missed dearly by Bostonians and other New England residents.

He billed himself as the “Woofa Goofa Mama Toofa.” When he made the switch from interviewer of those who passed through Boston’s Rock scene to standing front and center in it, he brought that playful but infernal word wizardry to the stage. He was one part Lord Buckley, another part Professor Irwin Corey, ace double and triple talkers. You never knew what was going to come out of Wolf’s mouth. (Try his spoken intro to “Must Of Got Lost.” It’s hypnotizing.)

“Must Of Got Lost” – blazing hot

Magic Dick, the Geils Band harp player, is the most revolutionary harmonica player of the 20th century. He turned the little mouth device into a major-league lead instrument and wailed on it so you might have thought he had a hurricane living in his lungs.

J. Geils himself is a great guitarist, one who could up and downshift smoothly between rhythm and lead parts, sweating, grimacing and contorting with the best of them. He knew how to make a great deal of very dramatic noise without resorting to much in the way of electronic aids. He’s always been on the bluesy side of the street, but he could speed up a song’s tempo like no other guitarist in history, as the close of “Lookin’ For A Love” attests to.

The Full House version of “Lookin’ For A Love” roars like a beast at the gates of Dante’s Inferno from the outset and keeps ripping, raging and ringing till Hell clangs shut to a wildly screaming, cheering crowd in Detroit, the band’s second home.

Lyrically, “Lookin’ For A Love” possesses a punkish, spartan, garage band charm. The singer starts by asking the world:

Somebody help me
Somebody help me now
Somebody help me now

Somebody help me
Find my baby
Somebody help me
Find my baby right now

You would expect he’s looking for someone specific but he’s not. He’s looking for a love somewhere, anywhere. He’s without it and he’s desperate – or maybe just extremely horny? Or both. Plenty of nonsense words come tumbling out though, and we wonder if the singer isn’t just stuck:

Fix my breakfast
And bring it to my bed
I’m looking for a love
To call my own

Do my love
Do it all the time
I’m looking for a love
To call my own

With lots of love and kisses
But people until then
I’m looking for a love
To call my own

About 3-1/2 minutes into the performance, the song stops cold and after a little exhortation by Wolf, restarts again as if someone had mainlined the entire band with liquid benzedrine during the breather.

Stephen Bladd turns on his drum afterburners and is joined by a crazy carnival dream of an organ pounding by Seth Justman. Danny Klein almost falls behind on his bass but then manages to zero in and push the band to even crazier speeds.

They close in what amounts to a rave. Don’t be surprised if it was reported that the first ever head-banging episode took place at this raucous and rugged performance.

I’m looking in the morning
I’m looking at night
Got to find my baby
She’s nowhere in sight

I’m looking, I’m looking
I’m looking, I’m looking

Hey brothers and sisters, he’s lookin’. You got it?

  • Former wife Faye Dunaway said this about Peter Wolf in her autobiography: He has the face of an apostle, all bones and hollows above his dark beard. Hidden behind his dark aviator shades are velvet eyes that you can drift in forever. His voice, though, is what locks its grip on you, as he weaves in and out of music and a smoky rap, telling tales of passion and pain. The blood of every important recording artist – of blues, jazz, rock – runs through the veins of his music.