List price: $149
Our price: $139
Limited Edition Boxed Set: 2,500 units, each hand signed and numbered by Nils himself. 9 CDs (with two CDs of previously unreleased material) and 1 DVD, 10 discs total; 169 music tracks. Features Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Ringo Starr, and many more. A 132-page book written by Nils with track-by-track commentary and introduction by Dave Marsh, and personal acknowledgments by Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Sting, Roger Daltrey, Bonnie Raitt and many others, illustrated with personal photographs, tour posters and more.
A true triple threat, the great Nils Lofgren has distinguished himself as the writer of melodic, affecting, and hard-rocking songs, a sensitive and seemingly ageless singer, and a guitarist of incomparable power and imagination. The stellar work of the singer-songwriter-guitarist, 30-year E Streeter, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee receives a comprehensive retrospective in Face the Music, a definitively annotated nine-CD/one-DVD boxed set that takes in Lofgren's 45-year solo career, due from Fantasy Records on August 5.
The collection's music component, selected by Lofgren himself, comprises 169 tracks, stretching back to Lofgren's early work with his Washington, D.C.-area band Grin, which he founded at the age of 17 in 1968, and surveying both his major-label solo albums and independent self-released music. Two of the CDs contain 40 previously unreleased tracks and rarities. The DVD features 20 video clips selected from a body of performances as diverse as Nils' career. Click here to see the full track listing
A detailed, lavishly illustrated 136-page booklet, with an introduction by rock critic Dave Marsh, contains Lofgren's track-by-track commentary and personal reflections on his work, as well as his tours of duty as a sideman with such luminaries as Springsteen, Neil Young, and Ringo Starr. The set also contains homages to Lofgren by such colleagues as Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sting, Bono, and Paul Rodgers.
In its entirety, the set gives a full-length, intimately detailed picture of the performer Neil Young -- who hired the 18-year-old Lofgren to play piano and guitar on After the Gold Rush in 1969 -- calls "an inspiration to me for many years."
Lofgren says the project was initiated during a 2012 meeting with executives from Concord Music Group. "To my surprise, they said they wanted to do this boxed set, a retrospective of my entire 45 years, of my music," he says. "That's how the ball got rolling. The record company had their good ideas, and then they said, 'It's your boxed set, so you pick.' They asked me to make the final choices and decisions, including every song."
Lofgren selected his own personal favorites from his four albums with Grin (1970-73) and his highly praised solo releases for A&M, MCA/Backstreets, CBS, and Rykodisc (1975-1992), many of which had been allowed to go out of print during the compact disc era. He says, "If it takes 45 minutes of work on the Internet to find one track from 40 years ago, that's not really available in my eyes."
Selections include such Grin classics as "Like Rain," "White Lies," "Slippery Fingers," and "Beggar's Day" (the last of which he also recorded on Crazy Horse's 1971 debut), plus solo gems like "Back It Up," "The Sun Hasn't Set," "You're the Weight," "Incidentally ... It's Over," and "Dreams Die Hard." His collaborators include Young, Springsteen, Starr, Graham Nash, Levon Helm, Al Kooper, Buddy Miles, Aynsley Dunbar, and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.
He also culled material from 10 unjustly overlooked albums issued since 1993 on his own Cattle Track Road Records imprint and sold via his web site, www.nilslofgren.com. Lofgren's selection includes his favorite tracks from his studio collections of original songs -- Damaged Goods (1995), Breakaway Angel (2001), Sacred Weapon (2006), and Old School (2011) -- plus cuts from four live albums, the soundtrack to the 1993 film Every Breath, his all-instrumental release Tuff Stuff! The Best of the All-Madden Team Band (2001), and his recital of Neil Young songs The Loner (2008). Such stars as Willie Nelson, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Paul Rodgers, Foreigner's Lou Gramm, and Sam Moore of Sam & Dave appear.
Long-time Lofgren fans will find some delightful surprises on the two CDs of unissued material, which reaches back in time to his work with the pre-Grin band Paul Dowell and the Dolphin and includes rarities from the Grin era. He says, "The piece de resistance for me was finding an old master tape of Neil Young singing and playing piano on 'Keith Don't Go' with Grin, and getting his permission to use it after we remixed it."
As revealing as the music are Lofgren's personal recollections in the set's generous booklet, which looks at his life from his days as an accordion-playing youth in Chicago to his tours of duty with Springsteen's E Street Band. Originally, the musician had planned to write the notes with his friend Dave Marsh. In the end, it became as close to a Nils Lofgren autobiography as we are likely to get. "Early on Dave broke the bad news: 'This is going to be much better, and potentially a great story, if you write it and I edit it,'" Lofgren says. "I hadn't planned on doing that kind of writing, but I couldn't disagree with him. Hand-writing the story, it does have a completely different flavor to it. People have always asked me to write a book, and I've always said no. I would have to talk about my very famous friends a lot, which could probably be done with dignity, but my heart's not in it. Dave kept saying, 'Go deeper, write more.' This was kind of a great excuse to share some of these stories through the history of the music. Hopefully it will give people, even fans, a deeper insight into what was going on."
Face the Music is a much-needed in-depth look at the groundbreaking solo work of one of rock's most underestimated, creative, and irreplaceable musicians. Summing up his monumental project, the unfailingly modest Lofgren says, "We were just grateful to play our faces off, anywhere and everywhere. To look back 45 years and to hand-pick this music and to hear it all together is pretty stunning. I'm really grateful that Concord gave me the creative license to put it together. It's something I've never done before, and had given up hope of doing, and I'm very excited about it."