Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nils Lofgren 1975

This 1975 classic hit the turntable tonight, and what a fine record.

Back It Up kicks things off with a great riff and a searing lead. One More Saturday night is a laid-back attempt at getting some, with a funky charm and great backbeat. If I Say It, It's So is a humorous conceit, and rocks hard with both piano and guitar. I should probably mention that one of the best rock lead guitarists anywhere (and certainly the best in the E Street Band) plays quite a bit of piano on this record. But it was 1975, and his piano is quite good.

I Don't Want To Know is a piano driven soft rocker that's good, and the lyric is an interesting approach to relationships. Then there's Kieth Don't Go, Nils' homage to his hero, and it rocks riffage as well as any Stones song, even in '75. Millions of kids everywhere should have been screaming for Kieth Don't Go like they did for Freebird. It would have made more sense really, except then we'd hate Kieth Don't Go just from overexposure.

Side two opens with Can't Buy A Break, and all the sudden the line "The cash ain't pullin' me through" makes perfect sense. Duty follows, and it's a driving, piano driven number. The guitar lead is what really shines, though. The piano on The Sun Hasn't Set On This Boy Yet rivals that on the album closer, Gerry Goffin and Carole King's Goin' Back, on which Nils certainly proves why he featured so much piano on the record. Goin' Back has a terrific arrangement and Lofgren's piano is killer. Nothing like the difficulty of his masterful guitar leads and fills, but his rhythm on piano is uniquely like that of a rhythm guitar, and it rocks.

Just before that Lofgren plays the heck out of Rock And Roll Crook, but it is still a lesser track, even with great guitar, as is the sappy Two By Two. Lofgren plays some nice acoustic guitar on that one though.

Throughout the entire record Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Wornell Jones on bass are ideal band mates to Nils on acoustic and electric guitars and piano. The rhythm section are pushing these songs forward all the way. Dunbar especially adds great drumming and keeps many of these songs more interesting than they would be with a less knowing drummer.

What's the downside? Nils Lofgren's voice is soft. Some might say great for vocal harmony, but without the strength to carry the lead on these songs. I think he does a fine job myself. But this is the stuff of stadium rock with the right singer.

But Bob Seger didn't write these songs, Nils Lofgren did (too bad for Bob). And he plays the heck out of the whole enchilada. He played with Grin and Neil Young before going solo, was hired when the E Street Band needed a pro, and released a bunch of solo records over the years.

Made this stone classic rock record in 1975.

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