Songs of Leonard Cohen [Bonus Tracks]by Leonard Cohen
At a time when a growing number of pop songwriters were embracing a more explicitly poetic approach in their lyrics, the 1967 debut album from Leonard Cohen introduced a songwriter who, rather than being inspired by "serious" literature, took up music after establishing himself as a published author and poet. The ten songs on Songs of Leonard Cohen were certainly beautifully constructed, artful in a way few (if any) other lyricists would approach for some time, but what's most striking about these songs isn't Cohen's technique, superb as it is, so much as his portraits of a world dominated by love and lust, rage and need, compassion and betrayal. While the relationship between men and women was often the framework for Cohen's songs (he didn't earn the nickname "the master of erotic despair" for nothing), he didn't write about love; rather, Cohen used the never-ending thrust and parry between the sexes as a jumping off point for his obsessive investigation of humanity's occasional kindness and frequent atrocities (both emotional and physical). Cohen's world view would be heady stuff at nearly any time and place, but coming in a year when pop music was only just beginning to be taken seriously, Songs of Leonard Cohen was a truly audacious achievement, as bold a challenge to pop music conventions as the other great debut of the year, The Velvet Underground & Nico, and a nearly perfectly realized product of his creative imagination. Producer John Simon added a touch of polish to Cohen's songs with his arrangements (originally Cohen wanted no accompaniment other than his guitar), though the results don't detract from his dry but emotive vocals; instead, they complement his lyrics with a thoughtful beauty and give the songs even greater strength. And a number of Cohen's finest songs appeared here, including the luminous "Suzanne," the subtly venomous "Master Song" and "Sisters of Mercy," which would later be used to memorable effect in Robert Altman's film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Many artists work their whole career to create a work as singular and accomplished as Songs of Leonard Cohen, and Cohen worked this alchemy the first time he entered a recording studio; few musicians have ever created a more remarkable or enduring debut. [Leonard Cohen's back catalog had long been in need of refurbishing when Sony/BMG released a remastered edition of Songs of Leonard Cohen in 2007. The new edition featured two bonus tracks recorded during the original sessions for the album, "Store Room" and "Blessed Is the Memory," and while neither is a major discovery, they're fine songs and worthy additions to the set. The album's audio is subtly but noticeably improved, and the beautifully designed package includes lyrics for the original album's ten songs as well as an essay from Anthony DeCurtis.]
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- Sony Legacy
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Released in 1968, ''The Songs of Leonard Cohen'' is the popular music's sensitive-stupendous, well-dressed bard's first album. And what an album! The icy wind from Montreal and the light breeze from Hydra make such a perfect mixture in it with the changeable draft of New York & Nashville. Among the twelve brilliant songs in the album, there is no weak one. These songs are about the complexity of life, fragility of women, faded passions, haunting memories, unforgiven confessions, artificial El Dorados and real mental collapses. It is completey out of your hands not to be mesmerized when you first hear ''Suzanne'', ''Master Song'', ''Stranger Song'', ''Sisters of Mercy'' and ''Stories of The Street''. More than thirty years after its release, the album could have maintained its magic anti-age structure. And ''the saddest singer'' in our planet continues teaching us sagely, about the beauty of desperate love for women, with his songs.
This is the album that introduced Leonard Cohen to the world, and good music hasn't been the same since. With the most complex lyrics of any songwriter out there, this was like listening to Lord Byron if you he knew how to play the guitar. With the opening mellow chords of "Suzanne" you are hooked and addicted for life. Thank you or damn you Leonard. Just Kiddin. The legendary melancholy tone of Leonard Cohen has been propogated ever since this record, but he just sings his heart. The greatest man of the English Word to walk the planet in the last 100 years, LC, this is to you!