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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 9 November 2011
I`ve heard this shambolically tight rock masterpiece sober, drunk, and most points inbetween. I`ve heard it on LP, on CD, and on the advice of a very alternative therapist. I`ve heard it when in the mood and not in the mood. I`ve listened to it happy, sad, strung out, depressed, overjoyed, tired, lit up, lovelorn and loved-up.
It`s one of the greatest rock albums ever made, of that I am in no doubt. I`ll bet Dylan (who`s fond of NY) loved it to death.
I`m playing it, for the umpteenth time, as I write, and it sounds like all the rock albums ever made rolled into one. It certainly `contains` Harvest, Goldrush, Time Fades Away and On The Beach in its sometimes tenuous embrace.
There isn`t a dud track, nothing that should embarrass or frighten any horses, plenty of raw soulfulness, a spontaneous feel to most of it, little piano trills where you least expect them, the fiery catchy Downtown in the middle of a lot of troubled angst, and the whole thing sounds like it`s been around since the dawn of time - Greil Marcus`s `old weird America` come to call with an insistent urgency that won`t be denied.
Neil plays plenty of his trademark intense spidery guitar, he has a tremendous band with him - including the wonderful Nils Lofgren (a too-often unsung hero of thoughtful American soul-rock) on guitar & piano.
I wouldn`t be so crazy as to single out particular songs. This is one record that lives in the world as an entity, one track seeming to segue into the next. For example, when the unhurried Speakin` Out goes right into the relatively jaunty World On A String, it all feels just right! After the welcome rough magic of Downtown, the downhome ramblings of Mellow My Mind are exactly what the sawbones ordered.
These classic rock albums from the 60s & 70s - Astral Weeks, Forever Changes, Five Leaves Left, Happy Sad, Blonde On Blonde, The Band, Sailin` Shoes, Countdown To Ecstasy, Blue, Neil`s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - now have an aura of wonder about them that can never be dispelled.
A reluctant, pained masterpiece. Hear it if you haven`t. Hear it yet again if you have.
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on 22 August 2007
"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.
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on 17 August 2005
for me this is one of the greatest albums of the last 30 years, it has not dated one iota as many of the records of the time have. Tired Eyes is the most unearthly song about drugs ever written and every song has moments of sublime beauty. to those who bemoan the rough edges, you're missing the point.
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on 11 July 2004
This for me is Neil Young's masterpiece. Most of the songs on this album are inspired by the heroin-related deaths of two of Neil Young's comrades - guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry. It is an intensely dark exploration into the drug culture associated with rock and roll. The title track (and it's second part later) sets the scene by describing Berry's self-destruction. The album does not really err much from the theme of this opening shot and reaches it's emotional zenith at "Tired Eyes" - it sounds like Young is singing "open up the tired eyes" directly to Berry and Whitten in a futile attempt to bring them back from the grave. "Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown" is sung by Whitten and even though it's an upbeat song, it reinforces the whole tragic theme of the album. The whole album is entrenched in self-loathing and is funereal, the lyrics sung out of tune drunkenly which adds to the horror. The album's sleeve is mainly black - the colour of mourning and in the picture of the band onstage in the centre of the album sleeve there is an empty space onstage with Whitten's name underneath. The sheer emotional weight of this album makes it irresistable to anyone who wants to know Neil Young; this is basically his bleeding heart on CD. It is for these reasons why the has to be the greatest Neil Young album no question.
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on 6 July 2006
It took me years to get this and it may require you're perseverence but whenever you're down and you reach for that bottle or three.... just put this album on and try to sing along without crying. It's impossible! That's what this is all about - EMOTION! An antidote to the computer controlled music of the noughties for sure. This is as close to the blues that you can get. Every song is raw and hewn from the sorrow and useless loss of life that Young was feeling at the time. But this also a celebration of life and a fitting remembrance of those who had passed away so young, cut short by drug abuse. 'Tonight's The Night' can be a wake every night if you want it, if you'll just 'Mellow your mind' and 'Roll another number (for the road)'
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on 25 February 2005
A truly 5 star album. There is so much depth and sadness - Tonight's The Night is really heart-moving. There is a sense that Young is in another world. It sounds like this album was recorded/created almost in a daze, and for me that's its real genius. Real feelings are timeless.
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on 7 July 2001
This album ranks alongside "On The Beach","Zuma" and "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" as his best work. It is an album which is terribly dark in its execution it shows real feeling! Just as the listerner is getting over depressed by the amazing "Borrowed Tune" , where Young sounds at his most wasted,Young uplifts them with a poignant reminder of what this album is about, Danny Whitten and this is the pattern for the whole album. the eirie opener "Tonights the Night" sets the scene perfectly. "Mellow My Mind" is the highpoint of this album and the cracked vocals of Young just add to the pathos and who knows what the record company thought when he announced he would release this song in its raw state! Overall the album is amazing, and the CD sleeve adds more atmosphere with the name of Danny Whitten appearing on the photo but he is not there a final reminder of what the needle has done!
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on 14 October 2011
I was at a Neil Young gig in Bristol early seventies when he played this album in its entirity. The album had not even been released and Neil was coming off the back of big success with Harvest and After the Gold Rush and the whole CSNY thing.

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.
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on 17 February 2000
To my mind, Young's greatest work. The history of the album is well documented - made in the wake of the deaths through heroine overdoses of Danny Whitten and Bill Berry; withheld for two years due to its rough edges (off-key vocals and so on); taken on the road to audiences who were unfamiliar with the material etc. etc. It is, to some extent, Young's strained, hoarse voice that makes this album so appealing, giving it, as it does, a genuine hurt and sorrow that allows the pure atmosphere to transcend the musical faults. The haunting title track sets the mood - to be tempered, but never lost - for the rest of the album. At the heart of the work is the series of songs beginning with the rollicking 'Come On Baby let's Go Downtown' (recorded live, with Whitten on lead vocals - a poignant reminder of the loss the needle had caused), continuing through the aching 'Mellow My Mind' and 'Roll Another Number', and ending with 'Albuquerque', a dark, menacing song with the most orderly vocal on the record. Other highlights include 'Lookout Joe', and the harrowing tale of another drug-related death, 'Tired Eyes', in which Young pleads 'please take my advice'. By now the listener needs no prompting as to the nature of the advice - heroine kills, so please steer clear of it. The album stands as one of the most heartfelt and tortured works in rock music history. It is also a masterpiece in no uncertain terms.
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on 12 November 2015
On the day Neil is 70, how many of us thought he'd never get there, I chose to listen to this particular album. I love it's darkness and the fact he wanted this out almost straight after "Harvest" says a lot about the man. Always done what Neil wanted and he's come through it. "Mellow My Mind" is painful to listen to but wonderful as is "Borrowed Tune". The famous story of him playing "Tonight's The Night" for one of the first times is worth repeating. At the interval his manager Eliott Roberts pleaded with Neil to play them something they'd heard before as the audience were on the brink of rioting, expecting "Harvest" type tunes and getting the dark bleak "Tonight's The Night". So he went out for the second half and played them something they'd heard before, Tonight's The Night again!!! Only Neil. Bless him. Happy 70th
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