Saturday, February 21, 2004

#66) Neil Young - Tonight's The Night (released in 1975, I'm not sure where and when I picked it up on vinyl. Probably Arboria, probably early in college)

Tonight's The Night is really easy to either overrate (goddamn, it's not THAT much of a "dark night of the soul," and some of the worst moments is when it seems like Neil might be ACTING the part. He is smiling in every photo, you know) or underrate (the songs are really great). Ignore the hype and take it as what it is: moving, ramshackle performances of some of Neil's most noteworthy songs. Neil hands over the reigns much more than usual, letting guitarists Nils Lofgren and Ben Keith take solos in "Speaking Out" and "Lookout Joe" respectively, and including "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown," an unusually groovy number sung by late Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, recorded years before the album's release (proving that for Neil to let you sing lead on his album, you'd have to be dead).

Despite the ramshackle vibe, the songs are clear, strong and well-arranged. Plus the band has Young's commanding presence (usually on piano) to lead them (most drunken garage bands don't). Young accidentally (?) sums up his style best on the title track when he describes his late friend Bruce Berry singing "a song in a shaky voice that was real as the day was long." Tonight's The Tonight sounds
like the aftermath of a long day: you're ruminative, sorta happy, sorta sad, and definitely about to crash. I don't know much about death yet, but I know all about being to tired to go to sleep.

(note: this is edited down from a review of Tonight's The Night I posted back in April)

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