It may seem odd to devote ten discs (including a DVD) comprising 169 tracks to an individual many know mostly as a sideman (albeit a stellar one) to the stars. And while it’s true that Nils Lofgren is known to the masses as a reliable foil—first for Neil Young in an early incarnation of Crazy Horse, and currently alongside The Boss in the E Street Band—it’s his lengthy solo career that’s on display here.
Credit Fantasy for giving Lofgren his due with the aptly titled Face the Music. A comprehensive compendium curated by the artist himself, it begins with his stint at the helm of Grin—a supremely melodic pop/rock combo whose songs “Moon Tears,” Like Rain” and “White Lies,” still resonate some 45 years later—then proceeds through a Neil Young-less Crazy Horse classic called “Beggar’s Day” and culminates in a solo career that’s spawned such would-be, should-be standards as “Back It Up,” “Cry Tough,” “Shine Silently” and perhaps the greatest paean to a fellow rocker ever written, “Keith Don’t Go.” (The Keith in question bears the surname Richards.)
While Face the Music’s first seven discs serve as a perfect primer for any novice, the mother lode for fans resides in the two other discs containing 40 unreleased offerings (most of which are alone worth the cost of admission), a DVD including clips spanning his career and a lavish 136-page booklet by Dave Marsh that not only details Lofgren’s resume, but also offers testimonials from Young and Springsteen as well as from fellow artists like Bonnie Raitt, Sting, Bono and other artists of similar stature. To quote the title of the initial entry in this massive tome, “See What a Love Can Do.”
– Lee Zimmerman