Monday, January 21, 2008

No. 331: Tonight's the Night

Band: Neil Young
Album: Tonight's the Night
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: A record written and recorded in the direct aftermath of two Young friends (Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and band roadie Bruce Berry), the album is straight ahead rock and roll. The lyrics are stark and, at times, morbid. It's a dark record, but beautiful'
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Young's best stuff still remains his most radio-friendly (“Harvest,” “After the Gold Rush,” etc.) and “Tonight's the Night” will make you want to kill yourself.
Best song: "Borrowed Tune” is a great creepy drug use song while the title track is a tribute to Young's fallen comrades.
Worst song: “Mellow my Mind” isn't very good.
Is it awesome?: Yes.

Neil Young's career is dotted with albums he delivered to labels and were promptly rejected. “Tonight's the Night” was his second straight album in the '70s and you can see why the label had no interest in it. It's a dark, dark album; it's the type of thing Jason Molina base much of his Songs:Ohia stuff upon. It is not the type of record cone listens to as background.

Nevertheless, it's brilliantly written – even if some songs were written while totally wasted – and one of the highlights of Young's post CSNY work. The title track is rhythmic and cool, while “Tired Eyes” has the narrative qualities of a Velvet Underground murder mystery. The lighter “Albuquerque” is downright positive and whimsical in its celebration of a certain life.

It's not Young's best work, but it's an interesting, introspective look at death and mortality.

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