Nils Lofgren - vocals, guitar; Tom Lofgren - guitar, background vocals; Michael Zak - drums; Scotty Ballen - bass; Guest: Al Kooper - keyboards
Nils Lofgren was still establishing himself on the musical turf when he recorded this rare and exciting concert on KSAN-FM's "Live From The Record Plant" series on Halloween night, 1975. Lofgren had finished a run in the band Grin (with his brother Tom) and was an on-again/off-again member of Neil Young & Crazy Horse when he landed a solo deal on A&M Records. Though Lofgren never had a massive chart-topping hit that made him a household name, he did have a strong fan-base and enough success as a sideman for Young (and later Bruce Springsteen), that by the mid-1970s, his career had garnered serious noteworthy attention by music-industry insiders.
Although this show conveys Lofgren in the spotlight singing all the lead vocals, what made him such an in-demand sideman was his ability to provide brilliant guitar playing and effective backing vocals. Although many of his fans feel he had the talent and the songs to be a solo superstar, Lofgren has always seemed content with his career, and he never fails to deliver good solid performances. Although this band is not as hot as his '77 line-up (which included Rev Patrick Henderson on piano), Lofgren and company give shining performances on these songs that would eventually become the basis of his solo set lists. Opening with the simple and very short "Take You To The Movies," (featuring only Lofgren and his electric guitar), it gets a jump-start with "Back It Up," and "Keith Don't Go," a one/two punch combination of the best rockers Lofgren ever wrote. The latter was written about Keith Richards, Lofgren's most influential musical icon. It was penned during a time when Richards and Jagger were sparring in the press, and Lofgren had heard Keith would be leaving the Stones. In the end, of course, Richards never left and this song would end up getting Lofgren more radio airplay than any other in his career.
Even if you don't like Lofgren's smooth vocals and tasty guitar licks, this recording should be checked out for the pure quality of the songs. Lofgren is a real rock 'n' roll poet, especially demonstrated on "The Sun Hasn't Set On The Boy Yet" and "Like Rain," where he sings: "I love you like rain, always falling." Another classic Lofgren track is "Rock & Roll Crook," which supposedly was written during the Watergate hearings when then-President Nixon uttered the famous line: "I am NOT a crook!"
Most people know Lofgren for his work in Springsteen's E Street Band, (he was originally brought in to replace Little Stevie Van Zandt, and when Van Zandt returned to the E Street Band, Lofgren simply didn't leave), but he has a terrific body of solo work and this concert is proof of that. Other highlights of the show include "Goin' Back," and "Beggar's Day," which Lofgren wrote for a Crazy Horse album: the first one recorded post-Neil Young.