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The Very Best of Grin Featuring Nils Lofgren

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Album Review

The failure of Grin to sell large numbers of records in the early '70s is one of those mysteries of popular music. They seemed to have everything, all in the person of leader Nils Lofgren, an accomplished guitarist and songwriter with a connection to the CSNY axis who had played on Neil Young's After the Gold Rush when he was only 18-years-old. He was still under 21 when the first self-titled Grin album was released in 1971. Maybe his youth had something to do with the band's limited commercial success; he often let other band members take lead vocals on the songs he wrote, preferring a group context that sometimes hid his talents. Nevertheless, the band's albums garnered good reviews and the first three (of four) made the charts, with "White Lies" charting as a single. Those albums were stylistically diverse and somewhat uneven, but contained catchy pop/rock songs ("Like Rain," "Love or Else," "Sad Letter"), any one of which could have changed Grin's story with the right promotion. This well-chosen best-of (actually the second one, following a 1976 LP, despite a sticker on the CD proclaiming "1st-Ever GRIN 'Best-Of' Collection!"), containing a couple of previously unreleased tracks and a non-LP B-side, accurately portrays the band's pop-folk-rock-country sound, from "Everybody's Missin' the Sun" (which could have fit on After the Gold Rush easily) to "You're the Weight," from the band's 1973 swan song Gone Crazy, licensed from A&M Records. Lofgren, of course, went on to a more successful solo career from the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s before becoming "the most overqualified second guitarist in rock" in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, as Springsteen himself put it. But the work of Grin is more than juvenilia: In the early '70s, it was good enough to make fans frustrated that the band didn't get more of a hearing. And it sounds just as good more than 25 years later.

Customer Reviews

A near perfect retrospective

Grin was a great band in the early 1970's, but they never achieved the artistic success they so richly deserved. After 4 critically praised but commercialy unsuccessful albums, Nils Lofgren went on to a solo career that has been only slightly more successful. This collection showcases the fantastic music that Grin produced. While Nils' guitar work sizzles (listen to "Moontears" or "White Lies"), it can also be very sweet (listen to "Rusty Gun" and be awed). This CD has all of the Grin classics save one: "Direction," and if that song was included it would be perfect. Even with that omission the collection deserves 5 stars and it deserves a listen.

Good compilation

I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland listening to Nils and Grin as they played at local venues. This CD captures the band's best songs and showcases Nils' songwriting abilities and the band's harmonies. A must have for both old time fans and younger listeners who did not know that Nils had his own band before joining Bruce Springsteen.

Nils - A True Guitar Legend

Being I am from Maryland, "Nils" was a legend to me. Up there with Roy Buchanan and the very best guitarists of the era.... I went to all of his shows if anything to learn guitar technique. Just listen to the guitar break in "See What A Love Can Do" and consider this was like 1971....Nils was in the hallowed ground of creating a style. Now listen to White Lies.....just great rock n roll that is timeless. Buy this album - it is worth every penny.

Biography

Formed: 1969 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Before he was under the wing of Neil Young and before he made a series of underappreciated solo albums, guitarist Nils Lofgren formed Grin, a trio that was devoted to simple, basic rock & roll, in 1969. None of Grin's albums were commercially successful — they only received good reviews, not sales — but each showed a promising, dynamic group. Unfortunately, the group never fulfilled its potential, but the finest of its albums featured some terse, brilliant guitar...
Full Bio
The Very Best of Grin Featuring Nils Lofgren, Grin
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Pop, Pop/Rock, Rock & Roll
  • Released: May 24, 1999

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