Nils Lofgren - Cry Tough

EricEric USA
edited August 1 in year-1976

'Cry Tough' was Nils Lofgren's second long-player and in my mind it's a classic of mid-70s pop-rock although the praise for this album and his standing among the critical elite began to deteriorate citing weak material.

Nils Lofgren - Cry Tough
ARTIST: Nils Lofgren
ALBUM: Cry Tough
LABEL: A&M
SERIAL: SP-4573
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 1998, A&M, 540 903-2 * 2009, Hip-O-Select, B0013205-02

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA Flag
LINEUP: Nils Lofgren - guitar, keyboards, vocals * Tom Lofgren - guitar, vocals * Al Kooper - keyboards * Chuck Rainey, Paul Stallworth, Scott Ball - bass * Aynsley Dunbar, Jim Gordon - drums * Emil Richards, Holden Raphael - percussion * P.P. Arnold, Ron Hicklin, Buddy Miles, Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Cry Tough * 02 It's Not A Crime * 03 Incidentally It's Over * 04 For Your Love * 05 Share A Little * 06 Mud In Your Eye * 07 Can't Get Closer * 08 You Lit A Fire * 09 Jailbait

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

There was a time, believe it or not when Nils Lofgren was considered an up and coming guitar god. It's true and thumbing through an old tattered copy of Creem magazine in preparation for this review, it's obvious the critics of the day had his back and why not?

Lofgren's band Grin while selling hardly any albums were darlings of the rock establishment and his stint with Neil Young & Crazy Horse certainly gave him enough cred to forge ahead on a solo career.

His 1975 self-titled debut was well-received and developing a stage show which as a former gymnast including a trampoline and back-flips that by all accounts was highly entertaining; Lofgren seemed to be on his way to pop superstardom.

The Songs

'Cry Tough' was his second long-player and in my mind it's a classic of mid-70s pop-rock although the praise for this album and his standing among the critical elite began to deteriorate citing weak material, an issue Lofgren would struggle to overcome with each consecutive release.

His voice was never a selling point, sounding weak and at times dangerously thin but his tasty guitar playing more than made up for his lack of pipes. That said, Lofgren on his records failed to live up to his guitar hero billing, preferring to focus on the songs and contrary to the album's negative reviews at the time, buzzes with energy.

The title track is typical Lofgren fare with gritty street-wise lyrics that hit home on Midwest rock radio. Especially the punchy pop-rocker 'It's Not A Crime' while his version of The Yardbirds classic 'For Your Love' is one of the most unique I've come across; tailor-made for Lofgren's distinctive soloing.

'Mud In Your Eye' is a clever Fleetwood Mac styled romp and 'Can't Get Closer' teeters between Paris and solo Bob Welch; an appealing vibe that runs through the entire album.

In Summary

Lofgren's back catalog is not without inconsistencies, but everything through and ending with 1985's 'Flip' is of interest. I would suggest starting with 'Cry Tough' moving on to 1978's energetic double live 'Night After Night' and its follow-up 'Nils' released a year later for a taster of his best work.

Despite heavy promotion and touring; Lofgren never became a household name and although in 1984 he joined Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band where he remains to this day, his guitar hero status is now just a faded memory.


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