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Wednesday, 28 August 2019
Neil Young - Tonight's The Night (1975)
Released on 20 June 1975
Running time 44.45
This album, although eventually released in mid-1975, was recorded in 1973 by a grief-stricken* and (probably) drugged up Young. He toured the album and audiences, raised on Heart Of Gold and After The Goldrush were not too happy with this often maudlin, bluesy rock material. The album's release was shelved and On The Beach was recorded and released instead. Two years later the album got released and has, retrospectively, received much critical kudos. Personally, I prefer it to the often plaintive Harvest, so there you go.
1. Tonight's The Night
2. Speakin' Out
3. World On A String
4. Borrowed Tune
5. Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown
6. Mellow My Mind
7. Roll Another Number (For The Road)
9. New Mama
10. Lookout Joe
11. Tired Eyes
12. Tonight's The Night - Part II
Tonight's The Night is Young's tribute to his roadie Bruce Berry*, who died of a heroin overdose, six months after Crazy Horse's guitarist Danny Whitten* (Apparently, Young fired Whitten, gave him $50 and a flight ticket to LA. Whitten died of an overdose the next day). Young expressed his guilt, loss and grief, but it is done in a punchy, muscular rock format with Young's voice sounding gruffer and hoarser than on earlier recordings. It is as if Young is trying to sing it all out of his system.
Speakin' Out is a laid-back piece of bluesy rock, driven along by a strong bass and piano. Once more, it is a powerful rock-ish number. Nils Lofgren provides and excellent guitar solo.
World On A String continues the rock vibe, with another pumping offering. The tempo slows with the harmonica-driven strains of Borrowed Time. It is a moving, sad song that has Young trying to exorcise his feelings at the time. In typically Young fashion he straps his electric guitar on again soon enough, though, and gives us the scratchy, riffy joy of Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown. This is one of the album's rockiest moments.
Mellow My Mind finds Young's voice straining and cracking over its steady beat. It is a mournful lament of a song, but still full of power and featuring a killer harmonica.
Roll Another Number (For The Road) is a drunken-sounding slice of self-pitying country blues. Steel guitar backs Young's tired-sounding voice. "I'm not goin' back to Woodstock for a while...." he tells us as he finishes his drink and gets all reflective about "that helicopter day...".
Albuquerque is an excellent song, one of Young's best. It is another sombre country rock song, with Young once again mentioning how he is going to "roll another number...". More ghostly harmonica enhances the song's atmosphere. Young wants to find somewhere to enjoy some "fried eggs and country ham...". This is someone who just seems to want to get away from it all for a while, unsurprisingly.
New Mama is a gentle acoustic and keyboard wistful number. It is the lightest number thus far. It has a very Celtic, folky feel in places. The electric guitar is back on Lookout Joe, which is full of an attractive slow thump.
Tired Eyes sees Young back in that country bar, singing "please take my advice..." over a tinkling piano and a sad harmonica. Tonight's The Night is reprised at the end, slightly more in slightly more bluesy fashion, but still containing a real rock power.
Although this is an album expressing devastation and personal loss, its upbeat sound means when listened to it comes over as quite a lively, positive offering and is certainly a lot better than it was initially thought to be. Thankfully time has viewed it kindly.
- August 28, 2019