Peter Wolf Sleepless

When it comes to swagger, Peter Wolf always struck me as a poor man’s Mick Jagger, with about ten times the energy level. His hyperactive post as front-man for the J. Geils Band redefined the word "energy” and his antics added much to their music; his frenzied vocals held a greasy soulfulness that kept the groove-rich, high-energy band well grounded. Some 30 years later, the J.Geils Band is history and Wolf has released a near-perfect record celebrating a wide range of styles, tackled with maturity and the confidence of his age. Indeed, the pairing of Wolf with Jagger on the sensational William Bell classic "Nothing But The Wheel” is a brilliant coup, as Larry Campbell’s fiddle and pedal steel helps send it deep into Exile territory. Gentle ballads are, for the most part, Wolf’s current stock in trade — "A Lot Of Good Ones Gone” is a bittersweet acknowledgement of the high cost of the fast lane delivered tenderly. His bare bones, bluesy remake of J. Geils’ "Homework” (Otis Rush) is a fun highlight. Named for Tennessee Williams’ first drink of the day, "Five O’Clock Angel” is a delicate yet captivating ballad that proves haunting. Guest Keith Richards and Magic Dick add some bite to Sonny Boy Williamson’s "Too Close Together,” while Steve Earle helps honky-tonk up "Some Things You Don’t Want To Know.” But this record is less about guest stars and more about the evolution of a talented singer/songwriter who finds himself very much on top of his game six solo record later, enchantingly so. (Artemis)