Spectrum Music, a British division of PolyGram devoted to budget-priced compilations of material from the major label's vaults, is responsible for this CD-length collection drawn from the fourth Grin album, 1973's Gone Crazy (the other three were on Spindizzy and now are owned by Sony), and bandleader Nils Lofgren's first five solo albums: Nils Lofgren (1975), Cry Tough (1976), I Came to Dance (1977), the live Night After Night (1977), and Nils (1979), all of which were released originally on A&M Records. Since no chart singles emerged from these LPs, there isn't any objective criterion for what might constitute the best of them, though a subjective consensus of Grin/Lofgren fans no doubt would agree with the inclusion of the Keith Richards tribute "Keith Don't Go (Ode to the Glimmer Twin)," "Back It Up," and "The Sun Hasn't Set on This Boy Yet," all from Nils Lofgren. Beyond that, agreement might be harder to achieve, but many fans will find the omission of the title tracks from Cry Tough and I Came to Dance, as well as "No Mercy," the lead-off track from Nils, puzzling. Just as odd are the two inclusions from Night After Night, a stretched-out version of Grin's "Like Rain" and an abbreviated toss-off of "Take You to the Movies Tonight," also originally recorded by Grin. Presumably, they are here to bolster the co-billing of the album to Lofgren's early band, along with the three selections from Gone Crazy, among them "True Thrill," which features a lead vocal by brother Tom Lofgren. Completists will want to note the unheralded appearance of a previously unreleased outtake from Nils, "This Life Holds Something for Me," an engaging if inessential pop song. Annotator Arthur Davis claims the composer credit for it is "writer unknown," but no one seems to have told the person who listed composer credits on the back of the CD booklet, where the song is credited Lofgren. Another oddity is that both Davis and the Spectrum graphics department mistakenly call "Jealous Gun" "Jealous Guy"; Davis even warns us not to confuse it with the John Lennon song of the same name! Thus, The Best of Nils Lofgren & Grin: The A&M Years is not the ideal compilation of the Lofgren/Grin catalog on A&M, even if it was, at the time of its release, the lengthiest collection yet issued.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann