Atlantic Records, 1980
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/14/1997
Ah, Valentine's Day. The possibilities of items to review seems endless. The wife thought we should tackle Boyz II Men today, because they are such a romantic group. I originally had Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers lined up, but a phone call from fellow reviewer John Wells changed that plan. (Editor's note: Who is John Wells, you may ask? He was an original panel member who never did submit anything to the site.)
John had just emerged from a knock-down, drag-em-out argument with his fiancee, and his mood was not a great one. "Man, lemme tell ya," he said, "love sucks."
The light bulb went on - of course! How could I be so blind to ignore J. Geils Band's 1980 release Love Stinks? I gave John a few 900 numbers to soothe his male ego, and went scavenging through the Pierce Memorial Archives.
Turns out I should have listened to my wife in the first place. While this album holds a few treasures I had forgotten about, the album is mostly pop-like filler that ruined rock radio in the early '80s.
Two songs I had totally forgotten about on Love Stinks are "Come Back" and "Night Time," the latter being a cover tune. With Geils's guitar solidly providing a back beat and Peter Wolf's vocals powering the band, these tracks provide an insight into the popularity the band was about to experience with their followup album, Freeze-Frame, and make the album seem like it has some promise on it.
Problem is, that promise disappears after those two songs have finished. The band seems to be caught in an identity crisis. They don't know if they want to be an R&B band ("Night Time"), which they were capable of being, a rock band, or a freaking novelty act. When I was 12 years old, "No Anchovies, Please" was a laugh riot. Now that I'm older and have achieved Buddha nature, I realize what a waste of vinyl this track is. Funny? Yeah, about as funny as a box of hammers.
And then there is the title track. In some ways, it reminds me of "Centerfold" - it is an irreverent look at a subject. But, unlike "Centerfold," this track is humorless, and drags on needlessly.
Love Stinks is remembered for tracks that aren't worth the time, and has treasures that have been forgotten about. I won't go so far as to say tha album stinks, but Love disappoints.
And John? He and the future missus are back together, and he's singing a different song.