- 05 Jun 19
Sideman Steps Into Spotlight
Back in 1978 Lofgren was hard at work on his first solo album Nils but wasn’t convinced that his lyrics were up to scratch. Producer Bob Ezrin, who had worked on Lou Reed’s harrowing classic Berlin, put the two men together to see what might happen. Bonding over their shared love of American football in Lou's apartment, Reed would later call Lofgren up in the middle of the night and dictate the lyrics down the phone. Of these thirteen songs, some were released on that debut album, some turned up on Reed’s The Bells (1979), and Lofgren has uncovered the odd one since. In a move that’ll have Reed nuts salivating, he’s now decided to release the final five.
There’s no doubting Lofgren’s rock n’ roll credentials, he’s collaborated with Neil Young since the seventies - he’s working with him again right now if the rumours are to be credited - and has been part of the E-Street band since 1984. He is not, however, the world’s most gifted singer, and this record is hindered by some dodgy production choices - Andy Newmark’s drums sound a bit thin in places - and questionable arrangements – the 80s saxophone in 'City Lights' and the stiff male backing vocals both jar. The song writing dips a bit too. Some of the Reed co-writes are worthwhile like ‘Attitude City’ and ‘Give’, but the aforementioned ‘City Lights’, previously heard on The Bells, certainly isn’t, and the title track is just a seven-minute excuse for Lofgren to let loose with his guitar, as good as his playing inevitably is. ‘Dear Heartbreaker’ – a tribute to Tom Petty - has good intentions and is obviously heartfelt, but it just isn’t much of a tune.
Unlike say fellow Boss acolyte Little Steven’s last two solo albums, which both leap from the speakers, this record, though it works hard and could hardly be described as "bad", never really takes flight.