If you combine portions of the titles of Neil Young's 1973 Time Fades Away and his 1975 LP with Nils Lofgren, Tonight's the Night, voila, you have Night Fades Away. Some erstwhile rock critic said that Neil's Time Fades Away is an album that reviews itself -- just erase the word "Time" and you have "Neil Young Fades Away." Lofgren has less to risk at this point in his career than his former musical cohort, and the LP is more about exploring styles and experimenting than a fully realized musical statement. Nils' disheveled five o'clock shadow and torn, stained shirt on the front and back covers give a glimpse of the musical image, though Skunk Baxter from Steely Dan, on guitar and production here, takes the opposite tack, employing the oh so professional name Jeffrey Baxter. Jeff Porcaro, Nicky Hopkins, and even Del Shannon (with vocals on his own "I Go to Pieces" ) all show up and bring their individual talents, though some of it gets lost in the thin sound Baxter crafts for his fellow guitarist. As with the I Came to Dance album, the best moments here are the covers. The Beatles' "Anytime at All" is lots of fun, and though the rendition of Peter & Gordon's Top Ten smash from 12 years prior, "I Go to Pieces," moves nicely and is substantial, it doesn't come close to the original, despite Shannon's presence. The title track, "Night Fades Away," opens the album, and it is the best and most memorable original. "Ancient History" runs a close second with "In Motion" having some good moments and a neat line in "Streets Again" -- "I treat my victims like my friends" -- showing some humor. The song suffers from a nursery rhyme slipped in between the verses and co-writer Baxter's very nondescript production. The material and production keep Night Fades Away in the shadows, a dilemma for an artist as creative as Nils Lofgren. If only the music inside were as ragged as the cover photo of a star as enigmatic as he is handsome.
Review by Joe Viglione