Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979

Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979

by Leonard Cohen
     
 

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"My Way" may have been Frank Sinatra's theme song, but few artists have lived its words more intimately than Leonard Cohen. He can, without embellishment, call himself a poet, a novelist, a Buddhist, a sensual explorer, and -- as evidenced by this entrancing live document -- one of the more gripping live performers you'll ever be exposed to. Field Commander Cohen,<See more details below

Overview

"My Way" may have been Frank Sinatra's theme song, but few artists have lived its words more intimately than Leonard Cohen. He can, without embellishment, call himself a poet, a novelist, a Buddhist, a sensual explorer, and -- as evidenced by this entrancing live document -- one of the more gripping live performers you'll ever be exposed to. Field Commander Cohen, culled from a 1979 tour of Europe, wraps the singer's weathered, world-weary rasp in material that ranges in tone from burlap rough (like the raw, bluesy guitar solo that slices through "Bird on a Wire") to evocatively velvety (the eerie oud playing that permeates "Lover, Lover, Lover"). Cohen himself is in particularly fine form, radiating a brusque force on the title track, then easing back into a knowing sort of melancholy -- the tone that dominates a lovely version of "So Long, Marianne" and "Why Don't You Try," which is performed as a duet with Sharon Robinson. Although more than two decades have elapsed since this material was recorded, Field Commander Cohen won't strike you as some sort of dusty artifact: Vital and incisive in style as well as substance, it's the kind of collection that transcends time and place.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
As he'd firmly established himself as a poet and novelist years before he made his first album, Leonard Cohen is often regarded less as a musician than as a writer who happens to sing. But his songs have always displayed a subtle but mesmerizing melodic sense that dovetails gracefully with his lyrics, and though his craggy voice has its limits, no one else interprets Cohen's songs with his degree of intelligence and quiet passion. In 1979, after the release of his album Recent Songs, Cohen set out on an international concert tour accompanied by members of the jazz-rock group Passenger; Field Commander Cohen was compiled from recordings of the 1979 tour, and it presents an especially strong argument for Cohen's gifts as a musician. Cohen's voice had gained a great deal of strength and nuance since the dates preserved on 1973's Live Songs, and the smoky rasp that began to scar his vocals on I'm Your Man had yet to set in; this may well be Cohen's best set of recorded performances as a singer, and having Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson on hand as duet partners is especially rich icing on the cake. While the musicians take care to never intrude upon the songs, they play beautifully, with remarkable taste and skill; Passenger bring out the nuances of these songs with a sure but gentle hand (especially bassist Roscoe Beck and Paul Ostermayer on sax and clarinet), and Raffi Hakopian's violin and John Bilezikjian's oud add breathtaking punctuation to these performances (Cohen often cites his musicians after the songs, and it's not hard to imagine a singer being thrilled to work with musicians of this caliber). While it falls short of the stark emotional force of Songs of Leonard Cohen or Songs of Love and Hate, Field Commander Cohen makes clear that Cohen writes songs, not literature accompanied by incidental music, and here these 12 songs possess a passionate, aching beauty that's a wonder to behold; this is easily the best Leonard Cohen live recording to emerge to date.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/01/2008
Label:
Sbme Special Mkts.
UPC:
0886972470122
catalogNumber:
724701
Rank:
54155

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Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Leonard Cohen   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Jennifer Warnes   Vocals
Mitch Watkins   Electric Guitar
John Bilezikjian   Mandolin,Oud
Roscoe Beck   Bass
Bill Ginn   Keyboards
Henry Lewy   Recorder
Steve Meador   Drums
Paul Ostermayer   Flute,Saxophone
Raffi Hakopian   Violin
Sharon Robinson   Vocals

Technical Credits

Henry Lewy   Engineer
Doug Sax   Mastering
Leanne Ungar   Producer,Engineer
Nancy Donald   Art Direction
Koji Egawa   Engineer
Robert Hadley   Engineer
Fredrik Sarhagen   Engineer
Hazel Field   Cover Photo

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