Monday, March 31, 2008

No. 432: Sleepless

Band: Peter Wolf
Album: Sleepless
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Despite J. Geils Band's reputation as a one-hit wonder, Peter Wolf's songwriting was long praised by critics. His solo work has been celebrated and as a rock troubadour, you can do worse.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Honestly, why is this record on here? The record came out in 2002 and it's hardly an instant classic. Is it simply because the Wonder Twins help Wolf out?
Best song: "Run Silent, Run Deep" is very good.
Worst song: "Oh Marianne"is boring.
Is it awesome?: Nope.

There are some records on this list that I don't like, but I'd be hard-pressed to argue that they're not wildly important or hugely popular. Any of the Springsteen records, for example, are records that millions of people adore and scores of popular musicians (CouGHArcadeFireCOUGH) cite as heavy influences.

Peter Wolf's "Sleepless" is not an example of this type of record. "Sleepless," rather," is an example of the Rolling Stone fallacy, that if all things are equal, Baby Boomer icons and styles trump everything else.

"Sleepless" is a record of blues and country standards and songs written by Wolf himself. As leader of the J. Geils Band, Wolf was considered a master songwriter in a band that flew under the popular radar (save for, of course, "Centerfold). I guess a good modern comparison would be Nada Surf, a band that has been a critical favorite, despite only having one hit (a gimmick one, at that). Nevertheless, Wolf has held that title for ages and this album, his sixth, brings together other Boomer gods to make Jann Wenner light-headed.

It's not to say that "Sleepless" is a terrible albums. It's not. It is, essentially, what Jackson Browne should be. It's harmless soft rock with some very good influences (again, roots country and blues). With Keith Richards helping on a few songs and Mick Jagger lending his vocals, the record gets thrown into Boomer love territory.


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Anonymous said...

Early J. Geils Band, essentially rock fused with motown resulting in a killer live party/bar band, is the only truly good period of the band, and Wolf's work in general. Centerfold, Freeze Frame, et al. are bullshit, and I can see why Wolf left when he did. Unfortunately, his solo music has never gotten back to those early days.