No, this isn’t a posthumous (Reed died in 2013) collaboration nor has Lou come back from the dead. This was a songwriting collaboration, and Nils has released this new album around it. Now I don’t follow either of these guys that closely so apparently some of these songs were released before. And not all of them are collaborations.
Apparently, in 1978, Lofgren was recording a solo album, Nils. He was having a tough time with the lyrics. His producer was Bob Ezrin who had produced Lou Reed’s 1973 Berlin album. When Ezrin suggested the two get together to write, Lofgren said, “I thought to myself, ‘He’s not gonna co-write with me, he’s Lou Reed.’ They met, Reed didn’t bite his head off and they agreed to collaborate.
But I will here borrow from the Boston Globe:
“When Nils Lofgren sat with Lou Reed to discuss writing songs together while they were watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on television in Reed’s New York City apartment in 1978, he probably didn’t imagine it would take 40 years for many of the best songs from their resulting collaboration to finally see the light of day. Lofgren’s searing, deeply felt Blue With Lou, his first solo record in eight years, is centered on six (of 13) of the songs they co-wrote.”
So how is the album? Well, it’s got a lot of good tunes and great gobs of muscular, taut guitar-pickin’ by Mr. Also E Street Band. The newly-recorded Lofgren-Reed compositions are “Attitude City,” “Give,” “Talk Thru the Tears,” “City Lights,” “Don’t Let Your Guard Down,” and “Cut Him Up.”
Let us now check out “Give,” because it does not suck and it is pretty funky:
Nils: “I had 13 songs, complete with melodies, bridges, and lyrics that needed changing, so Lou said to me, ‘Send me the music,’ and I did. Shockingly, 3½ weeks later — honestly, I’d pretty much forgotten about it — he called me at 4:30 in the morning. Lou said he’d been up for three days and nights with no sleep, and he loved the tape.
He had completed 13 sets of lyrics and was willing to dictate them to me. I got a pad and pencil and took notation. It was careful notation, and I asked a lot of questions,” he says with a laugh. “He was really cool and thoughtful and above all, he was excited about the songs.” (For the record, there is also a Tom Petty tribute called “Dear Heartbreaker.”)
Here’s a mellow number called “Talk Through the Tears,” proving once again that the hard-edged Mr. Reed had a soft side:
As to those other previously released songs, they were “A Fool Like Me,” “I Found Her,” and “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” from Nils, and “City Lights,” “Stupid Man” and “With You” on his Reed’s album The Bells. Lofgren released “Life” appeared on his Damaged Goods and “Driftin’ Man” for his Breakaway Angel. (“City Lights” repeats on this album.)
Lastly I’ll give you the title track which Lofgren wrote for Reed. More muscular playing here. Nils name checks “Walk on the Wild Side” somewhere in here:
Nils has played with just about everybody BTW and I recently name-checked him in a post on Roy Buchanan.
This is a fine album and I think, worthy of your attention.
Sources: Wikipedia; Best Classic Bands; Boston Globe