It’s funny how sometimes when a singer leaves a band, both that singer and the band, with their new singer, put out an album around the same time. Is it coincidence? Rivalry? Answers on a post card please. I guess we’ll never know. All I know is that in 1984, after singer Peter Wolf left the J Geils band, the band released the album I visited in the last post and Peter Wolf came out with his debut solo album, “Lights Out,” at the same time.
Listening to the opener, title cut and biggest single from the album, I am reminded why I probably stayed away from the album. The video for “Lights Out” got a fair amount of play on MTV at the time but it also got played a lot in dance clubs although that song was better than most of the stuff played in such places. That song never did anything for me and it still doesn’t.
Fortunately, there are far better songs on “Lights Out.” The very next track, “I Need You Tonight” has a more traditional J Geils Band sound and the succeeding track is a little of the same. Then there is the rather spooky sounding ballad, “Gloomy Sunday,” which has a 1940s feel to it. It does show that Peter’s voice has some versatility to it. A better single for me would have been “Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go.” This has a more catchy commercial vibe to it and I bet you could dance to it if you’re into such things.
One big question that arises from the album is: Was Peter Wolf in a competition with Randy Newman as to who could get the most big names to accompany on their album? You only need to see the list of people on this album to discover what I mean. Heck, he even gets Mick Jagger to duet with him on the track “Crazy” and it sounds good. Possibly my favourite track on the album. I don’t know who of the many guitarists on the album does the guitar solo but it’s well done. My guess is that it’s Adrian Belew but don’t quote me on that. It could be The Cars guitarist Elliot Easton but to me, it doesn’t sound like his style, I could be wrong and usually am.
- Lights Out
- I Need You Tonight
- Oo Ee Diddley Bop
- Gloomy Sunday
- Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go
- Poor Girls Heart
- Here Comes That Hurt Again
- Pretty Lady
- Mars Needs Women
- Billy Bigtime
Peter Wolf- conga, vocals
Robin Beck- vocals
Mick Jagger- vocals
Adrian Belew- guitar
Peter Bliss- guitar, backing vocals
Tony ‘Rocks’ Cowan- guitar
Alan Dawson- percussion
Elliot Easton- guitar
Eddie Gorodetsky- vocals, narration
Yogi Horton- percussion
Michael Jozun- bass, flute, guitar, percussion, horns, keyboards, backing vocals
Will Lee- bass, vocals
Leon Mobley- conga, conductor
P-Funk Horns- horn section
Rick Peppers- guitar
Randy Ross- guitar
G E Smith- guitar
Maurice Starr- bass, guitar, vocals
Ed Stasium- guitar, percussion
Rusty the Toejammer- scratches
Gordon Worthy- bass, conga, keyboards, vocals
I think that the theme of Peter Wolf’s “Lights Out” album is versatility. No two songs are the same yet at the same time, the album seems to flow. Whether its the more commercial sound of “Poor Girls Heart” to the humourous “Mars Needs Women” to the more blues funk closer “Billy Bigtime” there’s something here that everyone will like.
Next post: Rush- Grace Under Pressure
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