"Tonight's the Night" was one of the first few Neil Young albums I bought, almost 10 years ago. At the time I was well into his rock stuff - "Like a Hurricane", "Hey Hey My My" and the like - as well as his acoustic stuff... but this seemed to come from nowhere. On reading the sleeve notes, I was concerned by how little Neil actually plays guitar on the album. He seems to mostly play harp and piano. There's a fair bit of steel guitar too, which I wasn't too optimistic about.
It's difficult thinking back to that time now, since Neil was a big inspiration to me, and I knew a lot of his music, and a lot about him, but there's so much more I know now... I guess all this is leading up to me saying that despite how different this record sounded to the things I liked about Neil Young, I loved it all the more for it, and now it's just a natural and fitting part of the whole. It's a beautiful, tender, and yet raw and jagged album. It's dark, yet playful. The arrangements sooth, while the lyrics and the voices bristle with emotion.
When people who don't know much about Neil Young ask me to recommend an album... well, it's a difficult task because there's so much to consider - nevertheless, I always recommend this one as one of his best, though I know it's not musically representative of the man. And I know that some people who aren't used to this kind of roughness are going to be repelled. However, it is emotionally representative of him, and if a person can open up his mind enough, forget all the autotune of modern records, forget the slick production; he can love this record all the more for it's wailing, out of tune vocals and it's lumbering rhythms.
I'm sure most of you already know that when recording this album Neil and his band would stay up late drinking tequila and smoking weed, and then they would start playing these songs. And that's how they came to sound so perfectly imperfect. This record is a testament to Neil's methods, to his integrity, and to his ability to put his entire heart into his songwriting.
I've said it in a previous review, and I'll say it again: I don't know of any other artist who puts so much of themselves into their music, whose work is as personal as Neil Young's. That quality is was makes people feel Neil's music and what inspires so many guitar players and songwriters.
If you already like Neil Young, get this album and enrich your understanding of him, and your collection. If you're not familiar with him, this probably isn't the best place to start. Do be sure to come back here though; I can't imagine not owning this record - it's that important.
Oh, here's another story about this record: when Neil toured it, as you know, audiences weren't that impressed as he was playing this record all the way through, with none of his hits. I heard from one source that Neil said, "If you stay till the end, then I'll play some songs you've heard before". Then when he finished playing the album, he started from the beginning again. That's pretty funny. And it makes you wonder what you might have done if you had been there. Hopefully you would have stayed.
It's only one source that i heard that from, so I'm not sure if it's true. It probably happened one night. I also read that Neil was drinking a lot of tequila on stage, and some nights would play the title track 3 or 4 times.
Sorry; I've taken a tidy, succinct review and made it messy. I just thought you might like to hear a story if you didn't know it already.