beware the Wolf!

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The Producers Series is where I get to feature the work of a favorite music producer. To kick off the series here on RetroBlog is none other than Peter Wolf. no, not the lead singer of the J. Geils Band. The Peter Wolfresponsible (or the one to blame, depending on your point of view) for unleashing Starship’s biggest 80’s hit “We Built This City (on Rock and Roll!!!)” onto the world. back at the height of his popularity as a producer in the mid-eighties, he was behind the recording console for hits like “Nightshift” by the Commodores, “King of Wishful Thinking” by Go West, “On My Own” by Patti Labelle and of course “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung. OK, OK, so the man is responsible for some cheezy 80’s songs but even so, I like the guy’s sound. he definitely has a signature sound. it’s this sort of slick, ultra clean almost sterile type sound especially with the drums. in the majority of his productions, he ends up playing the keyboards and so you tend to hear the same type of synth sounds on a lot of his recordings. you also often hear backing vocals performed by a pseudo gospel choir which I personally like. Although I enjoy listening to his production work, I’ve noticed that a lot of the bands he worked with in the past are no longer around. hhhmmmmm… could Peter Wolf be a Career Killer????? I’ll take this time to present some evidence and you be the judge…

1) in 1988 Peter Wolf produced Big Country ’s album Peace In Our Time to the surprise of many BC fans. Wolf stamped his signature slick pop sound all over the band’s album and subsequently the band got dropped from the record label.

-Listen to Big Country’s Time for Leaving.

2) Wolf produced two albums for Wang Chung - Mosaic and the Other Side of Cool. He was so heavily involved with the albums you could probably say that he’s an unofficial member of the group. Wolf co-wrote the bulk of the songs, played keyboards on every track and even helped with backing vocals. it was more like Peter Wolf’s album with Wang Chung as guests. and in terms of career killer? well…. where’s Wang Chung now????

-Listen to Wang Chung’s Let’s Go

3) Around 1993 Chicago worked with Peter Wolf on their Stone of Sisyphus album. you say you never heard of an album called Stones of Sisyphus by Chicago? That’s because after listening to the final product, Chicago’s record label refused to put it out. That’s right. The album is locked away somewhere and has never been released. The record label ended up dropping Chicago and the group had to start releasing albums independently from then on.

-Listen to Stone of Sisyphus by Chicago.

4) Bourgeois Tagg had a hit in the late eighties titled “I Don’t Mind at All”. To record a follow-up, the group went in to do some tracks with who? that’s right. Peter Wolf. …and? you guess it. the group imploded while recording the initial tracks and never completed the album. years later, bassist/vocalist Larry Tagg eventually included some of the tracks from the Wolf sessions on his solo album which was released on a small independent label.

-Listen to 1/2 yes 1/2 no by Larry Tagg.

5) OK, how about Go West . yup, their big hits, King of Wishful Thinkingand Faithful were both produced by Peter Wolf. and after being with the Wolf?nada. nunca. nothing. the group vanished off the charts.

-Listen to Faithful by Go West

makes ya wonder, eh? …so, indeed, beware the Wolf!!