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Tonight's the Night

154 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

By 1975 Young had written some of the most enduring anthems in rock history. But from the slow, tension-building piano opening of "Tonight's the Night," he downshifts into darkness and Crazy Horse's folk-country melodies take on a guttural hum that would eventually speak to generations of punk and grunge musicians. Inspired by the overdose deaths of two of Young's friends, roadie Bruce Berry and guitarist Danny Whitten, the title track (and its closing reprise) is a hypnotic cry of "why?" Even the relative party songs, "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown" and "Roll Another Number," fit the album's bus-to-nowhere resignation. --Steve Knopper

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002KCC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,544 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

246 of 249 people found the following review helpful By Mark Bennett on May 18, 2001
Format: Audio CD
In my senior year in high school (1975) I was a huge Neil Young fan. I had all his solo albums, had seen him in concert several times, knew virtually every one of his tunes by heart, and I even looked like the guy. When I heard that he had released a new album, "Tonight's the Night", I hustled down to the local Tower Records, forked over my ...,and rushed home to give it listen. I hated it. "What," I asked no one in particular, "is this mess?" Neil's lack of polish and affectation were always part of his appeal, but "Tonight's the Night" was too much. Neil and his band were so loaded they could hardly play, Neil singing was so bad it was laughable, and the whole record sounded like it had been recorded in a barn. I dismissed the thing as some kind of joke and filed "Tonight's the Night" away on the shelf. I then put on "After the Gold Rush" and thought about what I could have bought with that ... I wasted on "Tonight's the Night".
A few weeks later I was telling a friend how bad "Tonight's the Night" was and pulled it off the shelf to play for him. But, on second listen the album didn't sound as bad as I had remembered. "Come Baby, Let's Go Downtown" was a nice rockin' tune, "Roll Another Number" was an amusing druggie tale, and "Tired Eyes" seemed like an sad, even pretty, ballad. "Hmmm," I thought "Maybe this isn't a joke after all." I still didn't think it was a good album, it sure wasn't "Harvest", but I decided to give it a few more listens before I wrote it off for good.
So over the next few weeks I listened to "Tonight's the Night" again. And again. And again. And again.
Read more ›
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on May 17, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Hearing this record for the first time was one of the scariest and strangely moving experiences of my life. Hearing Neil positively moan out the straight-narrative vocals of the opening title track - as if each word sung is causing him physical pain - gives one a glimpse of what it must feel like to hear a man sing from the other side of the grave. The history of this album is well-documented: it was written and recorded in 1973 after the heroin-related deaths of two of Neil's associates, guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry. As on the more recent Sleeps With Angels - where Young deals directly with Kurt Cobain's suicide - Neil tackles his subject matter head on here, in a surprising, shocking, almost nearly disturbing way. One hears of turning grief into art - art as therapy - well, there are few finer examples of it in all of music than here. Neil directly unloads his grief and sorrow and mixed up and confused feelings into his music. The title track is a direct narrative about Berry "Bruce Berry was a working man/He used to load that Econoline van" and sets the course for the rest of the album's songs - dark, introspective, direct, brooding, and ragged. The lyrics and music supporting them have a generally dark vibe throughout; absolutely hopeless tunes such as Borrowed Tune ("I'm clmbin' this ladder/My head in the clouds/I hope that it matters/I'm havin' my doubts") abound. The lone upbeat, more harmonius song here - a live Come On, Baby, Let's Go Downtown with vocals from Whitten - sticks out like a sore thumb amongst this musical graveyard of heartbreak and pain.Read more ›
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Rocco Dormarunno on February 6, 2004
Format: Audio CD
The long history of rock and roll is filled with many incongruities. One of the more SEEMING incongruities has already been identified by several reviewers (I didn't read them all, so this may be old hat) and that is the punk feel in this mostly accoustic album. But this shouldn't be surprising. In a 1977 interview, Johnny (Rotten) Lydon stated that Neil Young was a major influence on him, and that TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT impressed him the most. Neil returned the compliment in "Hey, Hey, My, My" with the lyric: "The King is gone but he's not forgotten/This is the story of Johnny Rotten".
Obviously, the influence wasn't musical. The influence wasn't in attitude, either: much of TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT howls with pain and despair, NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS..." growls with anger and mockery. The true influence writhes in the convulsions, the hoarse screams, the rawness of the emotions. There's a fury and an outrage in these albums that is unsuppressed. It's little wonder that Kurt Cobain would be the logical heir of this legacy. (Another seeming incongruity: Kurt Cobain's suicide note contains Neil Young's lyric "It's better to burn out than to fade away". And Neil wrote the sorrowful "Sleeps with Angels" about Cobaine's suicide.)
Nearly thirty years later the raw wounds still fester; the album has withstood the proverbial test of time. I won't go through each song individually because I would just be repeating what other reviewers have said. But it is worth repeating how powerful this album is.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Blunot on October 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"Tonight's The Night" is, in many respects, the most remarkable record Neil Young has ever made. More to the point, it's an album so marked by pure and unprocessed emotion that you can be certain that you will never hear anything like it again released by a major artist on a major label.

And by 1973, Neil Young was a major artist. Both financially and creatively. "Everybody knows...", "After the Gold Rush", and "Harvest" had all been released, delivering to Young some of the biggest hits of his very long career. But by 1973, Young's success as an artist was being tempered by the losses to excess he was experiencing among those around him. First Danny Whitten, a guitarist with Crazy Horse and songwriter ("I Don't Want To Talk About It") overdosed on heroin in 1972, using the money Young had given him along with a plane ticket home, fired after a disasterous recording session. Then Bruce Berry, a roadie with Crazy Horse, died at the same hand a year later.

With this emotional backdrop, Young recorded several late night sessions with his band of semi finished tunes and less than flawless musicianship. The result is not polished, not always coherent, nor for that matter, in tune. But it remains an extraordinary document of a significant artist grappling with his deepest demons. And he recorded it. Listen to "Borrowed Tune" with it's lyrics and melody confessing the artistic theft so plainly ("I'm singing this borrowed tune, I took from the Rolling Stones. Alone in this empty room, too wasted to write my own") and consider the chances you'll ever hear such honesty on record again.
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Topic From this Discussion
How many "perfect" albums have been made?
In terms of true, utter perfection, where there's not a note out of place and so forth, I'm putting in three albums. Kind of Blue (Miles), A Love Supreme (Trane), and Abbey Road (the Beatles). There are about fifty others that come very close (honorable mentions to the Stones' Sticky Fingers and... Read More
Jul 23, 2008 by finulanu |  See all 16 posts
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