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Rock - Released October 24, 2016 | Columbia

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Rock - Released October 21, 2016 | Columbia

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Pop/Rock - Released September 19, 2014 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems is an uncharacteristically quick follow-up to 2012's Old Ideas. That record, cut in the aftermath of a multi-year tour, revitalized him as a recording artist. Producer Patrick Leonard (Madonna, Bryan Ferry) helms and plays on Popular Problems, and serves as co-writer on all but one tune. While Cohen's sound has revolved around keyboards since 1988's I'm Your Man, Leonard gets that the real power in the songwriter's lyrics are best relayed through his own own simple melodies. Everything here -- keys, female backing chorus, acoustic instrumentation, etc. -- is in their service. As always, Cohen's songs -- delivered in his deepest earth rasp -- offer protagonists who are ambivalent spiritual seekers, lusty, commitment-phobic lovers, and jaded, untrusting/untrustworthy world citizens. He is them, they are him: strangers hiding in plain sight. Opener "Slow" is paced by a blues vamp from an electric piano and kick drum. "...You want to get there soon/I want to get there last..." is delivered in a streetwise croak. It's a fine career metaphor, but the hilarious double entendre is self evident, too: "...All your turns are tight/Let me catch my breath/I thought we had all night." "Almost Like the Blues" employs a 12-bar variant exoticized by hand percussion. Cohen juxtaposes visions of global horror with worry over bad reviews; he's culpable because of his vanity. Gospel provides illustration on some of the better songs -- there are no weak ones. It's used with razored effect on "Samson in New Orleans" to address the devastation -- physical, emotional, spiritual -- left by Hurricane Katrina. Cohen really attempts to sing "Did I Ever Love You." Though it comes out a measured growl, its impact is searing. It shifts from gospel to country jaunt only to circle back, underscoring the bitter, vulnerable truth in the lyric. He observes: "The lemon trees blossom/The almond trees wither," before asking: "Was I ever someone/Who could love you forever?"; he knows the answer. The keyboards and tablas in "Nevermind," a narrative of treachery and global hypocrisy, create skeletal, tense funk. They're appended by Donna De Lory's Arabic chant for peace and safety in contrast to the lyric's scathing accusations. Gospel returns on "Born in Chains," a gentle but gripping first-person account of spiritual seeking with references to Judaism, Christianity, and Cohen's adopted Zen: "...I've heard the soul unfolds/In the chambers of its longing...But all the Ladders of the Night have fallen/Only darkness now/To lift the longing up." On set closer "You Got Me Singing," Cohen, accompanied only by acoustic guitar and violin, lays out hope: "You got me singing even though the world is gone/You got me thinking I'd like to carry on." It's an open-ended, affirmative sendoff. Popular Problems reveals that at 80, Cohen not only has plenty left, but is on top of his game. It is his most diverse confident and elegant recording since 1995's The Future. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released July 25, 2014 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Rock - Released July 23, 2014 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released December 11, 1995 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

Folk - Released September 13, 2010 | Columbia - Legacy

Given that Leonard Cohen's international concert tours of the late 2000s were prompted by the fact his former manager made off with his life's savings, only a curmudgeon would blame the man for trying to make the enterprise as profitable as possible. Roughly 14 months after releasing Live in London, which preserved Cohen's July 2008 performance at London's 02 Arena, the venerable singer and songwriter presented Songs from the Road, featuring 12 tunes from his 2008 and 2009 concert dates. While Live in London captured the feel and flow of a single concert and featured most of Cohen's best-known songs, this set includes bits and pieces from 11 different shows, and while this album isn't exactly a collection of rarities, it does feature a number of lesser-known tunes (such as "Heart with No Companion" and "That Don't Make It Junk") and variant versions of some of his more famous numbers (Cohen juggles the order of the verses on "Suzanne" and adds a new verse to "Bird on a Wire"). While Live in London was a richly satisfying souvenir of Cohen's inspired comeback shows, Songs from the Road is less impressive in its more modest scale and less cohesive atmosphere. But the album still demonstrates that Cohen is a compelling and absorbing performer who brings his soul into every verse he sings, and his band is nothing less that superb; even when Dino Soldo's sax and Bob Metzger's guitar dip into jazz fusion sleepyland, they give Cohen just the musical support he needs, and the interplay between them and the vocalist is a marvel. Songs from the Road seems a bit pale compared to the excellence of Live in London, but both albums are enough to convince anyone that even at the age of 74, Leonard Cohen remains one of the most vital figures in contemporary music, and his gifts as a performer nearly match his abilities as a writer, no small accomplishment. ~ Mark Deming

Folk - Released March 30, 2009 | Columbia

Folk - Released March 29, 1998 | Columbia

Folk - Released October 19, 2009 | Columbia - Legacy

On August 31, 1970, Leonard Cohen was scheduled to play the third Isle of Wight Festival. The conditions were not optimal. While 100,000 or so tickets had been sold, there were nearly 600,000 in attendance. Fans overran the island to see and hear the Who, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, and many others over five days. Given the gatecrashers, things got ugly and violent. Some acts were booed from the stage while others were pelted with projectiles; fires were set -- even the stage got torched during Hendrix's performance. Murray Lerner, the award-winning documentary filmmaker who had been commissioned to capture it all, packed up his gear. Thank goodness he stayed. Leonard Cohen was 35 and had two albums under his belt with a third on the way. He was scheduled to play after Hendrix, right in the middle of the chaos. Organizers tried to find a replacement piano for the one that had been burned -- he was asleep in his trailer when he was awakened at 1 a.m. An unkempt Cohen took the stage without hesitation at 2 a.m in a safari jacket and jeans over his pajamas, along with the Army -- producer Bob Johnson on organ, piano, and guitar; Elkin "Bubba" Fowler on bass and banjo; fiddler Charlie Daniels; guitarist Ron Cornelius; and vocalists Corlynn Hanney, Susan Mussmano, and Donna Washburn. Cohen opened with a story about a man at a circus asking people to light a match so they could see one another; he requested that from the rowdy crowd. Some granted it early, many more later. Lerner instinctually reset a camera just before his performance and got most of Cohen's show, the vibe of which transformed the festival's last day. It's all here on CD and DVD from Legacy. Cohen played songs from his first two albums, debuted a few, recited poems, and told stories. He offered personal confessions about being in a cheap hotel, trying to pick up a blonde woman in a Nazi poster while coming down from a speed run; he talked of friends who committed suicide because they had no one to talk to; and shared effortlessly, politely, and honestly without artifice or "showmanship." In other words, the qualities he has become known for throughout his career. The CD captures the entire performance in nearly pristine sound. The hits (of the time) are here, the banter is here, and the entire performance by the band is so special it will leave the listener utterly satisfied. Whether it's "So Long, Marianne," the poem "They Locked Up a Man," the stellar reading of "The Partisan," or the chilling version of "Famous Blue Raincoat," this is top-notch Cohen. The DVD is imperfect, but that's all right; it is still essential viewing artistically and historically. What Lerner captures is utterly magical, and not to be missed. His sense of timing is impeccable, his taste unassailable. Since he hastily reset his gear, there is one camera instead of three, but it hardly matters. He captures the essence of what happened, he understood instinctually what was going on on-stage and with the crowd, and he portrays that throughout the gig. The concert is interspersed with brief interviews with eyewitnesses Judy Collins and Joan Baez, but their input is unnecessary and self-serving. Kris Kristofferson's first-person commentary, however, is wonderful, because it is journalistic and simple, without nostalgic interpretation. Cohen is not present as a commentator, which is unfortunate, but this is only a small complaint, really. This is one CD/DVD package that is so complementary, its pieces are inseparable. ~ Thom Jurek
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Folk - Released May 27, 2008 | Columbia

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There is an air of finality on Leonard Cohen's Dear Heather. Cohen, who turned 70 in September of 2004, offers no air of personal mortality -- thank God; may this elegant Canadian bard of the holy and profane live forever. It nonetheless looks back -- to teachers, lovers, and friends -- and celebrates life spent in the process of actually living it. The album's bookend tracks provide some evidence: Lord Byron's bittersweet "Go No More A-Roving," set to music and sung by Cohen and Sharon Robinson (and dedicated to Cohen's ailing mentor, Irving Layton), and a beautifully crafted reading of country music's greatest lost love song, "Tennessee Waltz." Cohen's voice is even quieter, almost whispering, nearly sepulchral. The tone of the album is mellow, hushed, nocturnal. Its instrumentation is drenched in the beat nightclub atmospherics of Ten New Songs: trippy, skeletal R&B and pop and Casio keyboard- and beatbox-propelled rhythm tracks are graced by brushed drums, spectral saxophones, and vibes, along with an all but imperceptible acoustic guitar lilting sleepily through it all. But this doesn't get it, because there's so much more than this, too. That said, Dear Heather is Cohen's most upbeat offering. Rather than focus on loss as an end, it looks upon experience as something to be accepted as a portal to wisdom and gratitude. Women permeate these songs both literally and metaphorically. Robinson, who collaborated with Cohen last time, is here, but so is Anjani Thomas. Leanne Ungar also lends production help. Cohen blatantly sums up his amorous life in "Because Of": "Because of a few songs/Wherein I spoke of their mystery/Women have been exceptionally kind to my old age/They make a secret place/In their busy lives/And they say, 'Look at me, Leonard/Look at me one last time.'" "The Letters," written with Robinson, who sings in duet, is a case in point, reflecting on a past love who has been "Reading them again/The ones you didn't burn/You press them to your lips/My pages of concern...The wounded forms appear/The loss, the full extent/And simple kindness here/The solitude of strength." "On That Day" is a deeply compassionate meditation on the violence of September 11 where he asks the question: "Did you go crazy/Or did you report/On that day...." It is followed by the spoken poem "A Villanelle for Our Time," with words by Cohen's late professor Frank Scott that transform these experiences into hope. "We rise to play a greater part/The lesser loyalties depart/And neither race nor creed remain/From bitter searching of the heart...." On "There for You," with Robinson, Cohen digs even deeper into the well, telling an old lover that no matter the end result of their love, he was indeed there, had shown up, he was accountable and is grateful. Cohen quotes his own first book, The Spice Box of Earth, to pay tribute to the late poet A.M. Klein. "Tennessee Waltz" is indeed a sad, sad song, but it is given balance in Cohen's elegant, cheerful delivery. If this is indeed his final offering as a songwriter, it is a fine, decent, and moving way to close this chapter of the book of his life. ~ Thom Jurek
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Rock - Released October 7, 2016 | Columbia

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Rock - Released September 21, 2016 | Columbia

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Rock - Released May 20, 2015 | Columbia

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Rock - Released May 8, 2015 | Columbia

Hi-Res Booklet
Leonard Cohen's return to touring in 2008 kicked off a remarkably productive and satisfying third act in his career, and his continued enthusiasm for live performances has been both surprising and rewarding, as Cohen has reminded his fans that he's one of the most compelling artists you can see on a stage, even in his eighth decade. But Cohen has also released three live albums since his comeback -- 2009's Live in London, 2010's Songs from the Road, and 2014's Live in Dublin -- and even his most loyal patrons must be wondering how badly they need a fourth. Product overkill might keep some of Cohen's fans away from 2015's Can't Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live performances and soundcheck recordings from 2012 and 2013 road dates, but from a strict standpoint of quality, Cohen's batting average is still admirably high, and this album once again leaves no doubt as to his continued strength as a vocalist. Admittedly, as Cohen was close to 80 when he recorded most of these performances, his instrument is not as smooth as it once was (and it was never pristine), but he can do remarkable things with the register he has left, and his phrasing is artful while his emotions are honest and beautifully rendered (short of Alberta Hunter, no one in this age bracket has ever sung about sex with this degree of conviction and realism). Cohen's band, who have been consistently superb since he resumed touring, are in great form here, and generally sound a bit more spare and restrained, with fewer extended solos and a coolly blues-influenced feel on a pair of new tunes, "Never Gave Nobody Trouble" and "Got a Little Secret." Good as his bandmates are, on Can't Forget, Cohen is the star, and he's as strong, as witty, and as willing to lay himself emotionally bare as ever; it's anyone's guess how much longer he intends to keep going, but there's nothing here to suggest he needs or wants to quit now. ~ Mark Deming