Three local bands take on three entire Neil Young records tonight at Dante's. The Lewi Longmire Band (with a couple extra members, turning them into the Harvestars) cover Young's 1970 evergreen After the Gold Rush, followed by the Minus 5's performance of 1975's Zuma, and ending with the Don of Division Street's take of 1990's Ragged Glory. These aren't necessarily obscure albums in the Young canon (someone should do a full-album cover of the Dead Man soundtrack) but they're great choices, and here's why.

Longmire and friends have done a night like this before, back in 2009 when a group of local musicians performed Young's mid-'70s "Doom" trilogy: 1973's Time Fades Away, 1974's On the Beach, and 1975's Tonight's the Night, among the most depressive—and artistically triumphant—work Young ever recorded. So they've picked a further three records for tonight. Including After the Gold Rush in this roundup seems like a no-brainer; apart from 1972's Harvest, it's Young's most popular album (and Gold Rush is a better album than Harvest). It's got an elusively ramshackle charm that nearly every folk- or country-influenced rock band has tried to emulate since, with varying degrees of success.

Young used to put scorchers like "Southern Man" and tender ballads like "I Believe in You" on the same record more often—think of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere's pairing of "Round and Round" into "Down by the River"—but in recent years he's typically stuck to one template per album: the all-acoustic Harvest Moon or the all-electric Mirror Ball. But I always felt Young's strength often came from that contrast of acoustic and electric (with a few exceptions; more on this in a minute), and After the Gold Rush is among the best examples of this.

Named after the beach in Malibu, 1975's Zuma was Young's second "beach" album following the bitterly ironic On the Beach. In some ways, Zuma is Young's recovery album following the "Doom" trilogy, and also marked the debut of Crazy Horse 2.0, with new guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro replacing Danny Whitten after his fatal heroin overdose. It's nearly a perfect Crazy Horse album, with sloppy bashers like "Don't Cry No Tears" and "Drive Back," and stoney epics like "Dangerbird" and "Cortez the Killer" (which starts with a three-plus minute guitar solo, an either brilliant or fatal move depending on how you look at it—my vote's for brilliant). It also has a pretty love ditty in the form of "Lookin' for a Love" with one of the more twisted choruses in love-song history:

Lookin' for a love that's right for me
I don't know how long it's gonna be
But I hope I treat her kind
And don't mess with her mind
When she starts to see the darker side of me
There's also the misogyny of "Stupid Girl," which isn't quite as bad as it sounds (it's nothing compared to the vitriol of the 1966 Rolling Stones song of the same name). It also has one of my favorite couplets that Young ever wrote:
You're such a beautiful fish, floppin' on the summer sand
Lookin' for the wave you missed when another one is close at hand
It's nearly a perfect record. But Zuma is marred, undeniably marred, by its closing track "Through My Sails," a lame, sunburned acoustic outtake from a failed CSNY session that Young somehow decided to include. It ruins the hazy, primitive vibe that Crazy Horse has constructed throughout the record, and ruins the splendid taste left behind by the meandering "Cortez the Killer." It's one of the few examples where the mixture of acoustic and electric doesn't work. Maybe that's why Young abandoned the formula in later years, only resurrecting it in places like the two-sided duality of Rust Never Sleeps. We'll see what the Minus 5 makes of "Through My Sails" tonight. Maybe they can redeem it.

For my money, though, the most interesting set of the night will be the Don of Division Street's take on the jammy, rambling, fiery-electric "Ragged Glory." That album was lauded when it was released in 1990, and has fallen in esteem slightly since, but it's still one of Young's most rewarding records. Anchored by the 10-minute jams of the passionate, magnificent "Love and Only Love" and the slightly lesser "Love to Burn," Ragged Glory is basically Young guitar-soloing for over an hour, backed by a never-louder Crazy Horse.

Opening track "Country Home" is Young at his dumbest: a three-chord, eat-shit country song turned into a blazing, crunching rock song. I unabashedly love it (its opening bars are perfect) and I won't attempt to defend it. "Fuckin' Up" might be the best-known song on the record, thanks to Pearl Jam covering it incessantly, but it's better performed by Young. (Does anyone really believe Eddie Vedder when he scolds himself for fuckin' up? Oh, Eddie.) Coming from Young's howl, though, it's potent shit. "Over and Over" is an underrated gem, and "Mansion on the Hill" is as melodically well-constructed a song as Young ever wrote. Look how he plays against expectations in the rhyme scheme of the unflappably optimistic chorus:

There's a mansion on the hill
Psychedelic music fills the air
Peace and love live there still
In that mansion on the hill
But—"Love and Only Love" aside—perhaps the best tune on Ragged Glory is the Dylan homage "Days That Used to Be." Reworking the tune of "My Back Pages," Young is reportedly addressing Dylan directly:
I wish that I could talk to you
And you could talk to me
'Cause there's very few of us left, my friend
From the days that used to be
[Side note: the inside booklet of Ragged Glory includes four black pages. That's because the record label didn't want to print the words to "Fuckin' Up." So Young just blacked out the whole damn lyric sheet.]

These are three nearly perfect albums (you can hit the bar during "Through My Sails") and it'll be a pretty exciting to see three bands take on the three decidedly different albums. Let's hope the Don of Division Street brings the fireworks for Ragged Glory and does that album justice. It's hard to imagine that they won't—and, after all, it's tough to fuck up an album that includes a song called "Fuckin' Up."

Dante's, 9 pm, 1 SW 3rd, $10

End Hits: Not always this long-winded, but almost always this useless and geeky.