Nils Lofgren

Blue With Lou

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The Lou in question is Lou Reed, the erstwhile leader of the Velvet Underground who died in 2013. Nils Lofgren and Reed crossed paths in the late '70s, when producer Bob Ezrin -- who helmed Reed's Berlin in 1973 and was working with Lofgren on a new record -- introduced the pair. Hitting it off, Lofgren and Reed wrote a clutch of songs which appeared on their 1979 albums Nils and The Bells, but these six songs weren't all that the duo wrote together. After Reed's death, Lofgren excavated the songs that weren't recorded at the time, adding six new tunes and a version of "City Lights" -- originally from The Bells -- for good measure. Tracking live in his home studio with drummer Andy Newmark and bassist Kevin McCormick, Lofgren achieves a lean, sinewy sound that gives the tight group plenty of room to roam, and they occasionally do, stretching out the title track to seven minutes and "Cut Him Up" to six. Such a concentration on a muscular band dynamic naturally moves Blue with Lou closer to Lofgren's camp than Reed's, but the latter's DNA still shines through in both the rhymes and rhythms. Lofgren's originals may not carry the same swagger, but when they're surrounded by these Reed co-writes, they're given a slight lift: the whole affair simultaneously feels like an affectionate tribute to a departed friend and a resuscitation of Lofgren's gut-level rock & roll.

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