Album Review – ROXY – Neil Young (Reprise/Warner Music)
Review by Geoff Jenke
Neil Young continues to look after his fans with yet another release from the archives. Roxy, subtitled Tonight’s the Night Live is culled from recordings made at the Roxy Theatre on Sunset Strip, Los Angeles in September 1973. The amazing thing about this concert is, it was performed a full 2 years before the studio album, Tonight’s the Night was released. The album was delayed by the record company because they felt it was too dark and murky.
The studio album is an expression of grief. Neil’s guitarist Danny Whitten and friend/roadie Bruce Berry had both recently died of drug overdoses before it’s recording.
The band on the live album, known as the Santa Monica Flyers, is pretty much the same as on the studio version. Ben Keith (R.I.P.), Nils Lofgren (now with Springsteen) and Crazy Horse rhythm section, Billy Talbot (Bass) and Ralph Molina (drums). A pretty formidable line up, if there ever was one.
The band start with Tonight’s the Night and the sound is stronger and tougher than the recorded version. The song is so fresh that Neil forgets a line during the opening number.
At the end of the number there is an impromptu spin of Roll Out the Barrel for good measure. This is the sound of a band having fun after being cooped up in the studio for two months. After the band intro’s, Neil introduces himself as Glenn Miller to much amusement and later says after 10 years in the business he feels like Perry Como.
The songs speak for themselves, Mellow my Mind, Roll Another Number, Tired Eyes to name a few of the now Young classics.
The album only has one track that didn’t appear on the original studio album, Walk On and Neil introduced it as an old song, but it would be another 9 months before that song saw an official release.
Oh, to have a time machine and to go back to be in the audience of this show. Most live albums are laden with greatest hits and better-known tracks. This one is laden with songs of despair, sadness, darkness and guilt and as such it is the perfect live album.
Trivia – apparently there is an alternative version of the studio album Tonight’s the Night. Lets hope we see that released one day.