Back to Blog

DLC Week of 1/4: The J. Geils Band and WAR

R&B rockers with distinctive twists, The J. Geils Band “Centerfold” and WAR “Low Rider” offer catchy instrumental riffs, melodic hooks, and unlimited vibe! Both of these timeless hits are available as DLC this Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store.

With 1981’s “Centerfold,” The J. Geils Band, already an established R&B/rock live attraction, leaned into pop and new wave sensibilities, scoring themselves the band’s one and only U.S. #1 single. Through heavy touring and buoyed by top-notch musicianship and the electrifying stage presence of the inimitable Peter Wolf, the Boston-based collective had developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the premier party bands of the ‘70s. While that distinction served The J. Geils Band well, filling arenas and landing the band opening slots on the road with the biggest names in rock and roll, it hadn’t yet translated into any world-beatinghits. “Centerfold,” the first single from the LP Freeze-Frame, married The J. Geils Band’s blues-rock bona fides with the then-burgeoning New Wave scene, replete with synths, slick production values, and insidiously catchy melodies.

Launching with the track’s signature keyboard riff, played on a detuned Prophet synth, supported by robust “get up and dance!” hand-claps, “Centerfold” wastes no time getting its hooks sunk into the listener. At 7 seconds in, a drum-fill and Wolf’s “Come on!” entreaty welcome the full ensemble to the party. Band namesake and guitar whiz J. Geils (John Warren Geils, Jr.) comps along with some chunky, crunchy chords and the rest of the band – vocalist/keyboardist (and primary songwriter) Seth Justman, bassist Danny Klein, drummer Stephen Bladd, and harmonica/sax player Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz – provide tight, bouncy support. At the 33-second point, we reach the pre-chorus, which doubles down on the disco beat while adding an “ooooh – scary!” synth line, setting the stage for what’s sure to be (and *is* – just wait for it!) a triumphant, euphoric refrain. Less than 10 seconds later we reach that chorus and it’s truly all you could hope for in a rock single. Following the second round of verse/pre-chorus/chorus, “Centerfold” busts into the memorable vocal “na na na-na-na-na” mirror of the opening synth melody, segueing into the third verse. A little later, that same gang-vocal “na-na-na” (etc.) serves as the extended outro of the song, augmented by some dirty fretwork on Geils’ part, before all instruments fade away and a solitary soul whistling the song’s main riff signals the conclusion of “Centerfold.” Funny, light-hearted, and silly? Absolutely – every bit as much as the song itself! 3:36 of giddyperfection. Get on it!

A stone-cold R&B classic, WAR “Low Rider” was a breakthrough number when it was released in 1975 and has since lived on in countless soundtracks and on radio playlists the world over. In the grand tradition established in the earliest days of rock and roll, the single is about a car, but never before had an ode to four-wheeling fun been quite as funky, groovy, or sexy. Purring along on the slippery strengths of a sultry bass line (B.B. Dickerson), lazily seductive sax (Charles Miller), and iconic harmonica work (the legendary Lee Oskar). “Low Rider” additionally features some of the most invitingly low-lidded vocals – also courtesy of Miller – ever committed to tape.

A chill rat-a-tat-tat of cowbell kicks off the proceedings, then joined by a protracted tom-fill, which leads to the full band kicking in. From there, its unrivaled laid-back, bass-driven groove that just oozes vibe. It’s no wonder “Low Rider” has been a go-to cut for directors seeking to quickly and effectively establish a free-wheeling aesthetic! When Miller’s vox begin at the 14-second point, it’s as if he only recently drifted into consciousness before stepping to the mic – or perhaps he’s still lounging in bed, or reclining on a comfy couch. The overall message and directive is one of “cool” – projecting coolness and valuing the trait as a virtue, perhaps even a mission-statement. The listener is invited to also adopt such a mindset and enjoy the music as a participant and not just a passive observer. Of his vocal approach in “Low Rider,” Miller shared, “What happened on 'Low Rider' was, in the studio, we were jamming, and I was supposed to have been on the downbeat. But all of the sudden I was on the upbeat. And I said, 'Oh, boy. I got the beat turned around.' I didn't panic. I said, 'Wait a minute. Stay there. Don't change it. Stay.' Because as long as you keep doing it over and over and over, it won't be a mistake.”

Confident, relaxed – just like all of “Low Rider.”

At 27 seconds in, we’re greeted by the first blast of “Low Rider”’s defining sax/harmonica riff –sleepily funky, poised, and hypnotic. Meanwhile, the beat keeps shuffling along, with WAR’s drummer Harold Brown setting the flow with ease, accompanied here and there by additional Latin-tinged percussive elements. The lyrics couldn’t possibly represent the track’s overall ambiance more perfectly. Beginning at 2:30 we begin the slow wind-down of the track, which features Miller’s plaintive sax wail beginning at 4:48 and drawing out, without rush (why start now?) until “Low Rider” concludes at 3:10. There’s plenty for all members of WAR to be proud of with “Low Rider” – a timeless R&B masterpiece for the ages!

The J. Geils Band “Centerfold” and WAR “Low Rider” are now available as DLC. Both can now be yours for $1.99 each.

· The J. Geils Band – “Centerfold”

· WAR – “Low Rider”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 1/4: The J. Geils Band “Centerfold” and WAR “Low Rider”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, January 4th.