Rolling Stone, #314 – By Ed Levine.
Like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the J. Geils Band got its start by churning out loving, frantic cover versions of R&B, blues and Fifties rock ‘n’ roll classics. While the Beatles and Stones moved on to find their own niches (mostly because of the compositional abilities of Lennon-McCartney and Jagger-Richards), the lack of a solid writer always held J. Geils back. However, on the group’s last two albums, Monkey Island and Sanctuary, Peter Wolf and Seth Justman finally seemed to have developed a strong songwriting flair. “Surrender,” “You’re the Only One,” “Sanctuary” and “One Last Kiss” were fine rock numbers, and the future looked bright. Unfortunately, the promise of those two LPs makes Love Stinks more than a little disappointing.
Things start out okay with “Just Can’t Wait,” an infectious uptempo pop rocker that boasts an irresistible hook and a catchy, handclap-dominated chorus. Later, the Strangeloves’ Sixties classic, “Night Time,” gets treated with energy and conviction. “Till the Walls Come Tumblin’ Down” is a typical Geils raveup, excitingly propelled by the band’s airtight rhythm section.
But the rest of the record is plagued by indifferent material and Seth Justman’s bloated, uneven, synthesizer-dominated production. “Come Back” spotlights a Eurodisco feel that simply sounds incongruous, while the title track is marred by banal lyrics and a mundane melody. “Tryin’ Not to Think about It” carries a heavy-metal intro that seems unconnected to the body of the tune. “No Anchovies, Please” is an embarrassing talking song that could be a Firesign Theater reject.
Love Stinks is a step backward for J. Geils. One can only hope that whatever inspired the group on Monkey Island can be rediscovered and used again. Indeed, some inspiration would appear essential if the J. Geils Band is going to evolve toward a more distinct and original musical identity.
Magazine Unknown, CD re-issue (Beat Goes On BGOCD 262) – By ?
Sadly this 1980 album does not include the spunky “Centerfold,” the bands best attempt to make friends with the British public. Vocalist Peter Wolf who later went solo, does an entertaining turn, but otherwise it’s just generic American R&B with a cute title. (**)