Floating World [Release date 04.03.13]
Given his high profile status as a pianist and guitarist for both Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, it’s sometime forgotten that Nils Lofgren enjoyed a 4 year span with Grin, before embarking on his on-going solo career in 1975. ‘Keith Don’t Go – Live at the Town & Country Club, London 1990’ dips back into his early career, for an acoustic to eclectic sweep of his formative years.
Best known as flamboyant guitarist occasionally given to trampolining – hence the album title of his last big label album ‘Flip’ – Lofgren is also a consistent song writer with a penchant for ballads and melodic pop rock as well as firebrand rocking.
And while this live set might disappoint some fans, especially as its light on material from his best studio albums ‘Cry Tough’ and ‘I Came To Dance’, he does a good job of reinvigorating some early career gems. The acoustic ‘Secrets In The Street’ and ‘Keith Don’t Go’ are given new spark while the autobiographical melodic pop-rock of ‘The Sun Hasn’t Set (On This Boy Yet)’ comes from his early Grin era.
The equally old ‘See What Love Can Do’ puts the accent more on a reggae/funk feel with a fiery vocal performance and inspired ensemble playing.
Given this live album represents 50 odd minutes of a full show, there’s still an integral dynamic to a set that builds incrementally. The band smoulders on ‘Rock And Roll Crook’ – one of the few songs that doesn’t sound much better with the passing of time – before igniting on the up tempo rocking of ‘Moon Tears’.
The song originally received its greatest exposure on the ‘I Came To Dance’, but goes back to the first Grin album, and is a riff driven gem with jangling, unison guitars and sparkling band interplay.
Inevitably there’s room for some lyric driven ballads such as ‘No Mercy’ and the love song ‘Shine Silently’ before Nils climaxes the show with the guitar driven ‘I Came To Dance’. The audience response suggests it’s that facet of his music that his fans love best.
While the current ‘Cry Tough’ live DVD offers a broader span of Nils career, this mid-price CD is decent a snap shot of an in demand session musician with a rich solo career of his own. ***(3/5)
Review by Pete Feenstra
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