Picks and Pans Review: Lights Out

updated 09/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Peter Wolf

A famous but hardly proper Bostonian, Wolf spent 16 years as the lead singer for the J. Geils Band, the leading exponent of hard-driving roadhouse R&B, not to mention the perpetual tour. After it seemed the group's grueling pilgrimage of one-night stands was finally about to pay off after the release of the album Freeze-Frame, Wolf and the Geils gang parted company. With Lights Out, Wolf's first solo effort, he displays enough energy to jump-start an old tour bus. Much of the credit for the crackle is due to Michael Jonzun, who is the front man for the Boston funk band, the Jonzun Crew. He co-produced and co-wrote most of the songs for Lights Out. He also harmonizes and plays keyboards and percussion. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have the benefits of backup work by such hired guns as the Cars' Elliot Easton, guitarist G.E. Smith of the Hall and Oates band, the P-Funk horns, King Crimson's Adrian Belew and Mick Jagger. Though the title cut has become a radio hit, it sounds like recycled J. Geils material next to some of the tricks that Wolf—Faye Dunaway's ex-shakes out of his sleeve on this LP. The rap influence of Jonzun is evident on Oo-Ee-Diddley-Bop! and Mars Needs Women, a spoof of the grade-Z sci-fi film of the same name. Wolf also scores with I Need You Tonight, a catchy pop number, Baby Please Don't Let Me Go, a strong homage to Motown, and (are you ready for this?) the Lazlo Janor/Rezso Seress standard from the '30s, Gloomy Sunday, the dirge originally made famous by Billie Holiday. (EM/America)

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