New Skin for the Old Ceremonyby Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen was a poet long before he decided to pick up a guitar. Despite singing in a dry baritone over spare arrangements, Cohen is a gifted lyricist who captivates the listener. New Skin for the Old Ceremony may be Leonard Cohen's most musical album, as he is accompanied by violas, mandolins, banjos, and percussion that give his music more texture than usual. The fact that Cohen does more real singing on this album can be seen as both a blessing and a curse -- while his voice sounds more strained, the songs are delivered with more passion than usual. Furthermore, he has background vocalists including Janis Ian that add significantly to create a fuller sound. It is no surprise, however, that he generally uses simple song structures to draw attention to the words ("Who By Fire"). The lyrics are filled with abstract yet vivid images, and the album primarily uses the metaphor of love and relationships as battlegrounds ("There Is a War," "Field Commander Cohen"). Cohen is clearly singing from the heart, and he chronicles his relationship with Janis Joplin in "Chelsea Hotel No. 2." This is one of his best albums, although new listeners should start with Songs of Leonard Cohen.
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- Sbme Special Mkts.
Performance CreditsLeonard Cohen Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Harp,Jew's Harp,Vocals
Janis Ian Vocals,Background Vocals
Lewis Furey Viola
Emily Bindiger Vocals,Background Vocals
Erin Dickins Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals
Armen Halburian Percussion
Gail Kantor Vocals
Jeff Layton Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Trumpet
Barry Lazarowitz Percussion,Drums
John Lissauer Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals,Woodwind
Roy Markowitz Drums
Don Payne Bass
Gerald Chamberlain Trombone
Ralph Gibson Guitar
Jeff Laton Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Trumpet
John Miller Bass
Ralph Gibson Guitar
Technical CreditsLeonard Cohen Composer
Frank Laico Engineer
John Lissauer Arranger,Producer
Rick Rowe Engineer
Teresa Alfieri Cover Design
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Sparce and textured, this album is really good. Haunting and bitterfully sorrowful '' I Tried to Leave You '' conjures you in the form of a piano. Similarily, '' Why Don't You Try '' is a non-contemptuous songs, in which the narrator asks his love '' why him '' and not '' why not me ''. There are surprizes in this album, like the piano, but also the banjo and saxophone, and that isn't to say the secrets have been given away. Structurally, a wonderful album who's title, New Skin for the Old Ceremony, is met. Leonard Cohen is a master at writing, always has been, and continues to be.
After three admirable studio albums, Mr.Leonard Cohen keeps on amazing us with another brilliant work named "New Skin for the Old Ceremony". With a more orchestrated sound (interestingly this time; his guitar does not twang like the engine of an North American diesel-electric locomotive which is ready for a run), a more engaged poetry (unsuprisingly again; his songs are full of forlorn and helpless heroes & heroines) and a less uncertain voice, Mr.Cohen kindles an intense feeling of sadness and melancholy in the listener. The strong proofs for that are "Chelsea Hotel No. 2[a touching homage to Ms.Janis Joplin]", "Field Commander Cohen", "A Singer Must Die", "Who by Fire", and of course " Take This Longing[the "sister of mercy" of "The Last Year's Man"]". "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream" wrote Mr.Edgar Allan Poe, a very long time ago. If he is right, we will need Mr.Leonard Cohen's songs to get used to reality, when the dream is over.
Leonard Cohen, the most literate of all the singer-songwriters of 60's and 70's, including Dylan, proved he was also a great instrumentalist in this album with clever violas and mandolins. One of his most infamous songs "Chelsea Hotel Number 2" is on here, discussed with great bluntless, especially for Cohen. I loved his themes of the interlocking of love, hate, war, and identity in such works as "There is a war" and the elusive "The Singer Must Die." Bravo, for Lenny.
This is a very good all around album from Is This What You Wanted to the haunting, plaintive wail of Leaving Greensleeves. Cohen's heroin induced spare arrangement of Chelsea Hotel #2 frames the album.