Release Date: Aug 5, 2014
Record label: Fantasy
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots Rock, Heartland Rock
Given his long and fruitful association with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band – he celebrated 30 years with them in May – Nils Lofgren might seem like the eternal sideman to casual onlookers. But true devotees of the flamboyant Windy City-born singer/ guitarist/songwriter know better. With over 20 albums to his name the prolific Lofgren has accrued a substantial body of work, even though it’s patently obvious that it’s largely underappreciated by the masses.
There are "musician's musicians," and there's Nils Lofgren, whom Neil Young drafted at 18 to play piano on After the Gold Rush, and who's been the E Street Band's hottest guitarist since the mid-1980s. This 10-disc anthology reprises an unsung singer-songwriter career, beginning with his Seventies band Grin (the sweet Cali-style soul of "Like Rain") through sharp, solo semihits ("Back It Up," "I Came to Dance") and beyond. You also get 132 pages of liner-notes-cum-memoir that can be just as entertaining as the music.
Face the Music, a massive nine-CD/single-DVD box set released in 2014, doesn't strive to convert the skeptics but its very heft suggests that Lofgren is worth consideration outside of the confines of his cult. That said, due to its very size, listening to Face the Music does require dedication. Combined, the ten discs do indeed provide a biography of Lofgren, with each disc telling a different chapter.
Nils LofgrenFace the Music(Concord/Fantasy)4 out of 5 stars Regardless of his many talents, it’s impossible to imagine this bulging nine CD (and one DVD) box existing if Nils Lofgren hadn’t spent the last few decades as one of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band guitar sharpshooters. It’s still questionable why this beautifully packaged, detailed set with a 136 page book was given a green light when the Boss doesn’t even have a multi-disc comprehensive life spanning set. Nor do most other well deserving rock and rollers, although Neil Young seems to be trying.
Journeyman defines decades of rock & roll service by Nils Lofgren but to the detriment of his bottomless catalog. The Chicago-born guitarist, who emerged from the D.C. scene in the late Sixties, remains best known for three decades' worth of service to Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, but don't forget key contributions to Neil Young and Ringo Starr ensembles.