Neil Young – Tonight’s the night (1975)

Please take my advice

I am not often in the mood for Tonight’s the night. It is too bleak and depressing, all about dead friends. The overall feeling of the album is as black as the cover. Rest in peace Bruce Berry and Danny Whitten.

Often an album is greater than the sum of its parts. For this album it is quite the opposite. The overall feeling I get is mostly sadness or maybe it is melancholy? But, there are some great songs on there nevertheless.

Musically it’s straightforward. The band is called The Santa Monica Flyers. Nils Lofgren and Ben Keith join the Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot from Crazy Horse. The first side is dominated by “Come on baby let’s go downtown” sung by Neil and Danny Whitten live in concert 1970. “World on a string” and “Mellow my mind” are two favourites.

The second side of the album is great. I don’t know if it really is better than side one or if I, the listener, have mentally adapted to the bleakness. “Roll another number” is one of the best tracks on the album. The slyness of the song, Nils’s plucking at the piano and the lyrics are especially great. Of course “Albuquerque” is also great. How slow can a man sing? “New mama” is a short sweet song with some likeable harmonies. We are not let go, it grips us by the balls.

“Lookout Joe” is heavy. It feels heavy to me at least! Is it a lament? The fullness of the sound, I hear many instruments. Ben’s slide guitar is most memorable. A rare visit by The Stray Gators on this album! Taken from the “Harvest”-sessions, it’s recorded in December 1972! Oh, Hallelujah.

“Tonight’s the night” is much loved when played live by Neil and Crazy Horse. Here we get two versions, bookending the album. The first version is simpler and a tad tentative. A more up-tempo version is anchoring the album. It’s not hard to imagine that this song would be great live. A lot of opportunities for extended jams. The studio versions are good but the song is improved upon later in Neil’s career.

My rating: 7/10

Side A:

  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

Side B:

  1. Roll another number (For the road)
  2. Albuquerque
  3. New Mama
  4. Lookout Joe
  5. Tired eyes
  6. Tonight’s the night (part II)

Best songs: “Roll another number”, “Albuquerque”, Lookout Joe” “World on a string” and “Mellow my mind”

Released on June 20th, 1975

Media: Reissued remastered gatefold 180 grams vinyl, 2015, Official Release Series 07

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