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TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT
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Audio CD, CD, 28 June 1993
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- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 12.19 x 14.4 x 0.99 cm; 110 Grams
- Manufacturer : REPRISE
- Item Model Number : 2016313
- Original Release Date : 1993
- Run time : 45 minutes
- Label : REPRISE
- ASIN : B000002KCC
- Country of origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
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This album acted as a musical expression of grief for Young, who wrote and recorded it in 1973 after the deaths of two close friends who overdosed on heroin. His emotional tone and hoarse voice soar on Tonight's the Night; World on a String; Tired Eyes; Roll Another Number (for the Road); Speakin' Out; Borrowed Tune , and six more.
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Recorded in the aftermath of the tragic loss of two of his inner circle, Tonight is a depairing expression of grief, and Neil didn't try to wrap everything up in poetry as songwriters tend to do on such occasions. The explicit nature of the words on songs like the title track is a fitting tribute to Bruce Berry and Danny Whitten, as is 'Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown', on which Danny takes the lead vocal surprisingly well. Other than this, I don't know of any Neil Young solo album where a lead vocal has been sung by anyone other than Neil himself.
The songs themselves are a suprisingly expansive collection, from good old rock 'n' roll to the usual harmonica based country folk with a heavy dose of bleary eyed blues. 'Borrowed Tune' is a good example of the album's mood; famously lifted from the Rolling Stones song 'Lady Jane'. (why didn't they sue him? They usually sue their own grandmothers for singing a Stones song in the bath) I like this a whole lot more than the Stones' rather pouty 'version'. On the subject of the Jagger influence, it is vocally noticeable on the title track and others, but then this is all about stripping away the supposed pretentiousness of anything cultured. A questionable endevour, but I suppose if you dispense with the cultured style of a Rodgers or a Plant, you would be left with the lowest common denominator; Mick Jagger.
Despite my reservations I think it's an excellent record, although there are several Young albums I would put in front of it. The title track and 'Tired Eyes' are often cited as two of the better songs, but I prefer the more subtle tones of 'World On A String' and the previously mentioned 'Borrowed Tune', which is exceptionally good borrowed or not. 'New Mama', about the birth of his first child to wife Carrie, always gets stuck in my head for days after I've been listening to the album, and I also like 'Mellow My Mind', which like most of the songs would not sound out of place on any Young album closer to the mainstream by virtue of a more traditional recording style. I'm not sure about the part where Neil's voice cracks up, as previously indicated I do not need to see the nuts and bolts to understand and appreciate how real everything is supposed to be. Having said that, the despair and weariness so beautifully expressed in the sleepy tones of Neil's harmonica on this album is quite awesome. Nobody blows into that thing like Neil in this sort of mood.
'On The Beach', his next outing, retained some of the ideals of this album, but it would be his crowning achievement as an artist, whereas this is no more than a very enjoyable listen.
The gig was so different to what was expected, gone was the sensitive mellow country singer looking for his heart of gold. This was rough and raw, dark sunglasses and leather. He got a lot of booing that night and if I recall his record company complained about the sub standard nature of the material on the album.
Having just bought this album again, it is an absolute classic and has some of his most memorable tracks and lyrics.
Not an album for people new to Mr Young, try one of his greatest hits compilations, but once you are into him get into this. I am playing it again some 40 years on and it is outstanding material.