Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Lights Out" by Peter Wolf

Song#:  1981
Date:  07/14/1984
Debut:  56
Peak:  12
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The J. Geils band was at its peak as the decade started. Their 1981 album Freeze Frame was a multi-platinum #1 hit thanks to the #1 single "Centerfold." However, as with many bands that experience huge success, problems would follow and in the case of this band, it was mainly creative differences between lead singer Peter Wolf and the band's other songwriter Seth Justman. It all became too much for Wolf and he chose to leave the band in 1983 before a proper studio follow-up to Freeze Frame could be recorded. Wolf then signed on with EMI America for a solo career. Working with producer Michael Jonzun (of the electro-funk group Jonzun Crew), the pair came up with Wolf's debut solo disc Lights Out. The title track would be the LP's first single and it did well getting near the Pop Top 10, #6 Rock, and #11 Dance. Although it wasn't a huge hit, Wolf could take solace knowing that the next J. Geils album wouldn't produce any successful singles.

ReduxReview:  I loved this blast, blast, blast from Wolf. Between he and Justman, they supplied J. Geils Band with most of its material. However, friction developed between the two when Wolf's new tunes were rejected by Justman. Apparently Wolf wanted to remain rooted in the band's rock/R&B style while Justman wanted to go in a more modern direction. The rift caused Wolf to leave, which was a shame. He had written some terrific tunes, like this one, that would have been perfect for the band. Alas, he got to keep them for himself and a solo career was born. I'm oddly glad it worked out that way because the Lights Out LP is a real gem from the time period. It's kind of a lost LP now because it has never been issued on CD here in the US and remains out of print (and not available digitally either). Luckily, I still have the vinyl LP so a little magic got it into my digital world.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Wolf and R&B singer/songwriter Don Covay. Despite being highly admired by many musicians (including Wolf), Covay's solo career was less than stellar. Only two of his songs, 1965's "Seesaw" and 1973's "I Was Checkin' In, She Was Checkin' Out," would get inside the R&B Top 10. However, he is probably more well-known as a songwriter. Many artists have recorded his songs with at least two of them certified classics. Chubby Checker took "Pony Time" to #1 in 1961 while Aretha Franklin won a Grammy for her  1967 #1 R&B/#2 Pop hit "Chain of Fools."



  1. Correction: the Lights Out album was officially released on CD for a time before eventually being discontinued -- I know, because I bought a copy for $5 from a FYE bargain bin sometime in the mid-90's in Massena NY.

  2. In 2023 this album is STILL unavailable digitally!! Obscene, of course, but nobody seems to know why.

    1. Yes, it is too bad. It is the same with his follow-up album "Come As You Are," which I liked quite a bit as well. Usually it is label/publishing issues that hold these up, but who knows.