First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2002, Volume 9, #9
Written by John Metzger
Forget what you know about Peter Wolf’s work with the J. Geils Band, particularly the group’s early ’80s incarnation. With its fusion of gospel, blues, and country, Sleepless (Wolf’s forthcoming solo album) is far more closely aligned with early ’70s-era Rolling Stones than anything else. This, of course, isn’t all that surprising given that this is precisely where the J. Geils Band got its start. What is surprising, however, is that in returning to his roots, Wolf does so with such vigorous passion as to outdo Mick Jagger’s recent release Goddess in the Doorway. As an added bonus, Keith Richards and Magic Dick turn up on Too Close Together to lay down a swinging blues groove, and Jagger adds his voice to the epic road tale Nothing But the Wheel.
As for the rest of Sleepless, it’s simply stellar. Throughout the album, Wolf uses the Stones-style motif as his foundation, churning out songs that could easily pass for lost Jagger-Richards compositions. Yet, he also adds plenty of subtleties that draw from other parts of the classic rock pantheon. The acoustic flourishes and airy percussion of Growin’ Pain come off as a collaboration between Jorma Kaukonen and the David Grisman Quintet; A Lot of Good Ones Gone injects a bit of Stax-soul into early electric blues, evoking much of the vast catalog of Van Morrison; the intro to Hey Jordan borrows from Sam Cooke; the shimmering rhythm of Oh Marianne is lifted from The Drifters; and Some Things You Don’t Want to Know wanders into territory tread by Steve Earle. In other words, while Wolf doesn’t break any new ground on Sleepless, he does do a superb job of retreading rock’s past. And, sometimes that’s enough — especially when an artist is having as much fun and sounds as comfortably at home as Wolf seems to be.
Of Further Interest...
Sleepless is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box