My all-time-favorite radio station was Stereo X, which disappeared in the mid-'70s. It only had one DJ, who had a deep voice and would say things like, “Relax, sit back and light up,” and then he would play some obscure Frank Zappa song.
I remember being in my basement room with the red and green light on my stereo as I went on a musical adventure. Often, one of my parents would pound a broom on the floor, signaling that the music was too loud.
My second-favorite radio station around 1980-81 was Radio Fantasia (Fantasy Radio), which you could hear anywhere within a few hundred miles of the Colombian capitol Bogota, which is about the size of Chicago. They would play everything from the Rolling Stones and Bob Seger to the Oak Ridge Boys.
What was really popular in 1981 was the J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” and the title-cut off their album Freeze Frame—they both got a lot of play.
So, when I got home from my mission in Bogota, I was interested in the band. I was delighted to discover they were one of the best live R&B and rock & roll bands out there, often blowing other bands off the stage, even though they were just the opener.
The album I suggest is Houseparty: Anthology. Now I know there’s a thin line between Greatest Hits sets and anthologies, but there is a difference. Usually, anthologies include enough music for someone to get a real idea of what the band is all about. You might also want to check out lead singer Peter Wolf’s solo albums, Lights Out (1984) and Sleepless (2002).