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Cry Tough

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Album Review

After releasing a solo debut that made a great case for his talent but didn't deliver the rock & roll goods as expected, Nils Lofgren turned up the guitar heroics on his 1976 album Cry Tough and the results were a lot closer to what fans had hoped for from the whiz kid from Grin. However, Cry Tough also unwittingly revealed the Achilles' Heel that would haunt Lofgren's solo career for the next three decades — there's no denying that the guy is a great guitar player, but his gifts as a guitarist and songwriter have been maddeningly inconsistent, and while 1975's self-titled solo debut was one of his high-water marks as a tunesmith, he gave himself more room to strut his stuff on guitar here without bringing many memorable tunes to the table ("Jailbait" and the title cut are particularly faulty). It's significant that two of the sharpest and most effective tracks on Cry Tough, "Incidentally … It's Over" and "Can't Get Closer (WCGC)," feature the same rhythm section that backed Lofgren on his debut; produced by David Briggs, they sound straightforward, compelling, and emotionally direct, while most of the rest of the album (produced by Al Kooper) features a larger band, a glossier approach, and somehow allows Lofgren to effectively sound lost on his own album. Lofgren certainly plays up a storm on Cry Tough, and his soloing on "You Lit a Fire" and "It's Not a Crime" is inspired, but that's not enough to keep this record afloat. Cry Tough is at its best when it is also at its simplest; if the whole album had been as good as "Incidentally … It's Over" and "Can't Get Closer (WCGC)," it would have been a winner, but instead it was the first in a long line of disappointments from a gifted but problematic talent.

Customer Reviews

Nils at his best

Nils' follow up single album after cutting his teeth with Grin. Title track, Cant' get closer and You lit a fire are real rockers. His virtuosity peaked here.

Great fun!

I entirely disagree with the iTunes reviewer. This is Nils' best album and the world is glad it has finally been reissued on CD. His soloing is great on "Cry Tough", "Share A Little" and "For Your Love." Yes, his songwriting (meaning the lyrics) is hilariously silly and my friends and I have laughed about "Mud In Your Eye" for years. But who cares, that's part of the fun.


Born: June 21, 1951 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

For much of his professional rock & roll career, Nils Lofgren has been known as the lead guitarist for Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band -- the guy who replaced Steven Van Zandt in 1984 and stayed on after Little Steven returned to the fold. Prior to the E-Street Band, Lofgren was a member of Neil Young's backing band Crazy Horse, and these associations have tended to dominate any mention of the guitarist's career, as any support for two legendary singer/songwriters would. But take away Bruce and...
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Cry Tough, Nils Lofgren
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