ROXY – Tonight’s The Night Live
Any Neil Young “Archives”-related reissue is of interest to any Neil Young fan but ROXY – Tonight’s The Night Live (released for Record Store Day) is certainly worthy, taking, as it does, one of the seminal Young albums from the “Ditch” (or “Doom”) Trilogy and showing the songs had a stronger, happier spirit when placed on the stage.
Tonight’s The Night is Young wallowing in grief and honey-soaked weed and booze-benders, assessing the deaths of Danny Whitten (Crazy Horse guitarist) and Bruce Berry (roadie). It’s junkie lamentations and when he could be bothered writing tunes of his own (which was most of the time, the lazy-but-lovely Borrowed Tune isn’t here on this live outing) it’s some of Neil’s best songs from the seventies – which of course is saying something.
The version of Mellow My Mind here goes bigger and better and yet the voice still cracks, it just doesn’t quite totally cave – so the song is stronger, prouder. In fact that’s it here. These are the proud versions. Not the hang-your-head-in-sorrow takes.
This is music being communicated, being sent out, being received.
There’s some naff banter (“My name is Glenn Miller”)and some curio stuff (a shout-out to David Geffen, in the audience but not quite Young’s label boss at that point) but whether you care about that or not you’ll want this for the versions of Mellow and Tired Eyes. For the raw grit and Crazy Horse-chug of World On A String, for the shimmer of Albuquerque.
There are nine songs from Tonight included on this night, The Roxy’s opening event – so it’s a piece of history right there also – and there’s a thriving rip-through of Walk On which has a power-pop bounce to it.
There’s more to come from this era, far more is buried, maybe we won’t see it officially but Neil and his Santa Monica Flyers (Crazy Horse’s rhythm section augmented by Nils Lofgren on guitar, piano and BVs and Ben Keith’s crucial pedal steel) are well served by this and the album Tonight’s The Night is well served on this; a just different-enough take that will have you back-and-forth-ing between the later-released studio takes, this vital set of live recordings and whatever other boots you care to suss out.
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