Nils Lofgren

Nils

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"No Mercy," with special effects recorded at Madison Square Garden, has the sentiment of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer." The double entendre being the rock musician oftentimes works on the same stage as the fighter, of course, punching away in the ring of life. Nils Lofgren is a veteran who has performed with Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and so many others, working here with producer Bob Ezrin who helped create Pink Floyd's The Wall. As with any great artist, Ezrin brings in his various contacts which color the recordings he makes, insuring a product that is as much the producer's as it is Nils Lofgren's. Dick Wagner co-wrote the hits "Only Women Bleed" and "You And Me" with Alice Cooper. Their "I Never Cry" gets a sequel of sorts as Wagner rejoins his former singer Lou Reed to compose "I'll Cry Tomorrow" -- Ezrin also brought Reed in to co-write some of the Kiss album The Elder, and all these recordings share a thread which is worth noting. With backing vocals and a big sound, "I'll Cry Tomorrow" is smooth and blends in nicely with this collection. Randy Newman's "Baltimore," with solid drumming by Alan Schwartzberg and a great hook, gets six minutes plus to play out. It's is fun to hear Newman's work put in this setting. Wagner and Lofgren write the semi-acoustic pop "Shine Silently," with a charming vocals by Nils. It, and the Lou Reed/Nils Lofgren song "I Found Her," are the two best tracks on the album. "I Found Her" sounds like '60s pop that neither Lou or Nils have been affiliated with, truly unique for both artists. It is more sugary than "Sunday Morning" by the Velvet Underground, bringing that side of Reed out when he was a staff songwriter for Pickwick. "A Fool Like Me," also written by the duo, has more pop sensibilities than Reed's work on some of his own recordings during this period -- his three titles with Nils Lofgren here are a good addition to his songbook. "You're So Easy" is a Wagner/Ezrin/Lofgren composition. The dancey beat, elegant guitars, and clearcut chorus make it a fun track. With a different feel from the Ezrin produced disc by guitar hero Steve Hunter who performed with Dick Wagner in both Lou Reed and Alice Cooper's bands -- Hunter and Wagner having reunited in 2000 for about six dates, and continuing to work together -- Lofgren seems to bring out something different in Ezrin's approach to working with another guitar master.

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