Tonight's The Night

Neil Young

Reprise Records, 1975

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


You would think that my admitting once that I was wrong about an album would be enough for our readers - but noooo, they like me admitting I've made an ass of myself.

Today's teacher: Ben McCormick, who not only called me to task for mixing up two songs in my review of Revolver, but asked me to review one of Neil Young's classic albums, Tonight's The Night. I cringed - the one time I listened to this one, I absolutely hated it.

But, I told people I'd take suggestions, so... off to the Pierce Memorial Archives (Cripes, I can't think of a stupid line for the Archives) to dig it out and give it a fair review.

Hoo, boy, was I wrong - I gotta remember to lay off the Schlitz before I listen to an album for the first time. An album fueled by the drug-related deaths of Crazy Horse musician Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, Young was pissed off, and was going to let everyone know that he felt that way. In retrospect, he made one incredible album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Best known for its title track, Young tells the story of Berry, as if to remind people he was a human being and friend first, a drug casualty a distant second. There are two versions of the song on this album; the first version is more acoustic oriented, and is more haunting. The electric version that closes the album is decent, but not as powerful in my eyes.

The most poignant moment on Tonight's The Night is "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown," a song which features the vocal talents of Whitten. To hear his performance makes me want to cry - this is one amazing performance that makes the circumstances surrounding his death even more tragic.

Young carries the emotion through on the song "Borrowed Time," which sounds like he's singing it from the perspective of one of his fallen comrades. A "borrowed song" from the Rolling Stones, because he's "too wasted" to write or finish his own (though I highly doubt this is autobiographical), the words match the sparse melody to a "T."

Yet another famous song from the album is "Roll Another Number" - and believe it or not, I have no frigging idea what Young is referring to (he uses the line again in "Albuquerque") - and I welcome readers to educate me. The song seems to take on a country-drunk song one would sing at closing time at the local watering hole, and is a stitch. (I admit I personally prefer the version done by The Beat Farmers - Country Dick Montana, we miss you.)

Tonight's The Night, like many of Young's albums, tends to walk the line between all-out rock and the twang of country - and Young manages to get the mixture just right on this album.

I'm starting to get tired of pulling my foot from my mouth to admit I was wrong in my first judgment of an album (either that, or I've got to get a flavored foot). But, I do have to admit that I was completely wrong in my first opinion of Tonight's The Night - upon further review, this is probably one of, if not the, best of Neil Young's career. (Now can I ask my readers to recommend albums I know I like?)

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-


Chris, the number referred to in "Roll Another Number" is a joint.

© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.