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He’s Your Man: Leonard Cohen’s “Live in Dublin” Captures Full-Length Concert

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Leonard Cohen - DublinCanadian poet-troubadour Leonard Cohen’s most recent album, issued earlier this year, was entitled Popular Problems, but one of Cohen’s problems is not a lack of available material for his fans.  Following that LP as well as the Mastered-for-iTunes release of his studio album catalogue, Cohen has announced the December 2 release of Live in Dublin via Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings.

His first full-length high definition concert film, Live in Dublin will be available in 3-CD/1-DVD and 3-CD/1-BD configurations as well as from digital service providers.  The concert was filmed last year at Dublin’s O2 arena on September 12, 2013, part of the artist’s critically-acclaimed, sold-out world tour.  At the O2 as on other stops, he incorporated music from 2012’s Old Ideas into a career-spanning retrospective set list of Cohen standards.  The three-hour program includes an 11-song first set including “Dance Me to the End of Love” and early classic “Bird on the Wire,” a second set with “Suzanne,” “Chelsea Hotel # 2,” “I’m Your Man,” “Tower of Song” and the inevitable “Hallelujah,” and an encore featuring “So Long, Marianne,” “First We Take Manhattan,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” and a poignant cover of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s Brill Building staple “Save the Last Dance for Me.”  The DVD only adds three bonus performances recorded in Canada in 2013: “Show Me the Place,” “Anyhow” and “Different Sides.”

Hit the jump for more, including the complete tracklisting and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 16, 2014 at 10:33

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVD, Leonard Cohen

Release Round-Up: Week of September 23

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Harrison Box Contents

George Harrison, The Apple Years 1968-1975 (Apple/Universal, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Here, at last, are George Harrison’s complete albums for Apple Records, all beautifully remastered and featuring select bonus material.  These six albums are available in a deluxe box set with a bonus DVD or as individual reissues:

Wonderwall Music (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electronic Music (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

All Things Must Pass  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Living in the Material World  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dark Horse (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Extra Texture (Read All About It)  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Bowie - Sound and Vision Contents

David Bowie, Sound + Vision  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

In case you missed it the last time around, here’s a slimmed-down reissue of the 2003 iteration of Bowie’s box set covering the chameleonic rock star’s career through 1997 on four CDs.

John Coltrane - Offering

John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University (Impulse!/Resonance) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

Here, at last, is the famous concert in which John Coltrane put down his saxophone and sang – or at least vocalized in an intense, some might say inexplicable, manner.  Ashley Kahn puts this remarkable, and remarkably inscrutable, 1966 Philadelphia performance in perspective in the deluxe 24-page booklet that accompanies this 2-CD release.

Hollies - 50 at Fifty

Hollies, Fifty at 50 (Parlophone/Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

This new 3-CD Hollies anthology, marking the harmony purveyors’ 50th year of recording, arrives in the U.K. today with a U.S. edition to follow next month.


Jerry Lee Lewis, The Knox Phillips Sessions: The Unreleased Recordings (Saguaro Road) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K. )

In the mid-1970s, Jerry Lee Lewis returned to Sun Studios with Sam Phillips’ son Knox now running the show; Knox recorded the piano pounder on country, pop and gospel classics from “Beautiful Dreamer” to “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.”  Ten tracks from the Knox Phillips sessions are included on this single-disc release.


Pugwash, A Rose in a Garden of Weeds (Omnivore) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

Omnivore has a “preamble through the history of Pugwash,” the Irish band described by the label as a “mix of The Beach Boys meets ELO meets XTC.”  This 17-track collection spans the period between 1999’s Almond Tea As Served By… through 2011’s The Olympus Sound and should serve as a perfect introduction to an underrated group.

Edwin Starr - Involved

Edwin Starr, Soul Master: Expanded Edition / Involved: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

Big Break dips back into the Motown vault for two generously expanded editions of albums from “War” hero Edwin Starr including his 1968 Motown LP debut Soul Master with a whopping 17 bonus tracks, and 1971’s Involved (featuring “War’) with 13 bonuses!

Soul Master: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Involved: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.


Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems (Columbia) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The poet and troubadour celebrates his 80th birthday with the release of a new album featuring nine new songs.


Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek (Interscope/Columbia) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Also not a reissue, but certainly of interest – the 88-years young jazz vocal great teams with the audacious pop superstar for a set of swinging standards.  Available in standard and deluxe editions, as well as Target, iTunes and HSN exclusives with extra material.

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2014 at 08:19

Black Friday 2012: Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa Lead Off Packed Slate of RSD Exclusives

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Here in the U. S. of A., Black Friday is almost upon us: that unusual date following the prior day of giving thanks, in which consumers make a mad dash to the local big-box store, mall or shopping center to procure bargains for the holiday season ahead.  Retailers are controversially beginning Black Friday “festivities” even earlier than usual this year, with many sales starting on Thanksgiving Day itself and not even at midnight but in the early part of the evening.  For a number of recent years, music buyers have had our own Black Friday, that day in April known as Record Store Day in which the aisles of our independent retailers are filled with hunters of collectible vinyl and CD releases.  Record Store Day has in the past sponsored a mini-RSD event on Black Friday, but this year, the titles on offer are as enticing and nearly as plentiful as those on the main RSD itself.  For some, this will be a source of frustration, for others, excitement.

This year’s line-up for Record Store Day – Black Friday brings titles from some of the biggest names in rock including The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Nirvana, plus cult favorites like Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazlewood and Frank Zappa, and country-and-western legends such as Wanda Jackson and Buck Owens.

After the jump and without further ado, we’ll fill you in on the crème of the reissued crop come this Black Friday!  Just click for your full list of the catalogue releases to watch! Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Leonard Cohen, “The Complete Columbia Albums Collection”

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Welcome to our Second Disc Holiday Gift Guide, in which we review some titles we might have missed over the past few weeks!  The titles we’re spotlighting in this occasional series just might be candidates on your own holiday shopping list!

It’s hard to believe that Leonard Cohen was once tarred with the infamous “New Dylan” brush, even though he was in rather rarefied company alongside other “New Dylans” like Loudon Wainwright III and even Bruce Springsteen.  Sure, both Mr. Cohen and the former Mr. Zimmerman shared non-traditional voices and a gift for truly literate lyrics.  Both made their recording debuts on Columbia Records, and even shared a producer, Bob Johnston.  But the similarities largely end there.  When Songs of Leonard Cohen was issued in late 1967, Dylan himself was still the new Dylan!  Currently about to enter his 50th year as a recording artist, Bob Dylan barely had five years under his belt in 1967.  Thanks to the herculean efforts of Columbia Records and Legacy, Leonard Cohen’s own 44-year career can now be assessed in one remarkable collection sure to inspire a breed of “new Cohens.”

Leonard Cohen: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection (Columbia/Legacy 88697 87184 2) is a 17-album, 18-disc set offering the complete live and studio albums of one of Canada’s favorite sons.  From 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen to 2010’s Songs from the Road, the box set contains the arc of the uncompromising career of one of the few men in rock who can truly be called a poet.  As with the most of Legacy’s Complete Albums Collection box sets, the emphasis is on the music.  The sturdy if no-frills cardboard box contains mini-LP replica jackets for each disc (every one adorned with the red Columbia label) and a 36-page booklet containing a brief essay by novelist Pico Iyer as well as credits for every album.

The one thing missing that would immeasurably enhance a set such as this would be a lyric booklet; while Cohen’s melodies deserve due credit, the man is one of rock’s purest poets, and his words are paramount.  By the 1967 release of the simply-titled Songs of Leonard Cohen, he was already an established author, but his early efforts included here make it clear that he didn’t enter music as a dilettante.

A seriousness of purpose, and a somber atmosphere, marks Cohen’s early album efforts.  Songs of Leonard Cohen employed subtle orchestrations to flesh out the composer’s stark melodies, while producer John Simon brought out the baroque and folk-rock flourishes here and there.  One could even imagine the Mamas and the Papas on the backing vocals to “So Long, Marianne.”  Cohen explores the foibles of love and lust in this dark collection of songs, with frequently spiritual overtones; the first song on the first album of the box set, “Suzanne,” was likely Cohen’s most famous song until “Hallejulah” came along, and it remains  a perfectly crafted character study about a mysterious woman who still spellbinds.  Religious references abound (“Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “The Stranger Song”) as does a percolating anger; the darker moments could be offset by Cohen’s dry, infrequently emotive vocals, but his disaffected vocal actually demands concentration and enhances the haunting nature of the songs, even in their gentler moments (“Travelin’ Lady”).

Cohen’s first three albums are often considered of a piece, although each of these albums has its strengths and unique character.  Bob Johnston encouraged a less-intricately arranged approach to Cohen’s 1969 follow-up, Songs from a Room, which is highlighted by the stunning “Bird on the Wire.”  The presence of Nashville session musicians including Charlie Daniels (yes, that Charlie Daniels!) lends a unique air to these albums, as well.  Cohen’s on-the-nose album names continued with his third, 1970’s Songs of Love and Hate.  And yes, you’ll find those, but throughout the albums here, you’ll also note songs of suicide, of despair, of pain, of death, of addiction.  (Love and Hate’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” later gave its title to Jennifer Warnes’ acclaimed album of Cohen compositions, while “Dress Rehearsal Rag” is a fascinating, twisting song that is far weightier than its title would indicate: “But you’ve used up all your coupons /except the one that seems to be written on your wrist along with several thousand dreams/Now Santa Claus comes forward, that’s a razor in his mitt; and he puts on his dark glasses and he shows you where to hit.”)  Cohen’s favorite recurring themes come sharply into focus on The Complete Collection.  It’s a great luxury to travel with the artist through this chronological set, illuminating those previously overlooked avenues.

After that initial three-year burst of creativity, Cohen’s studio albums arrived with less frequency.  Only eight more such albums have followed in the ensuing 40+ years.  Over these subsequent collections, you’ll hear Cohen aging gracefully into his voice, which sounded old and wizened before its time.  With producer and arranger John Lissauer (who added greater instrumental textures including strings, woodwinds, banjo, mandolin, trombone, trumpets and more), he returned for 1974’s New Skin for the Old Ceremony.  One of Cohen’s best albums, New Skin challenged listeners with more oblique lyrics about, well, love and hate, but even when the lyrics are oblique, the master craftsman gets the message across with his use of big, bold imagery.  Sexual, religious and cultural references all abound in songs like “Is This What You Wanted” (“You were the promise at dawn, I was the morning after/You were Jesus Christ my Lord, I was the money lender.  You were the sensitive woman, I was the very reverend Freud/You were the manual orgasm, I was the dirty little boy”) and “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” which frankly draws on Cohen’s relationship with Janis Joplin: “I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, you were talking so brave and so sweet, giving me head on the unmade bed, while the limousines wait in the street.”  Cohen’s honesty is disarming, with the song’s final line the equivalent of a punch in the stomach: “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best, I can’t keep track of each fallen robin. I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often.”  Janis Ian joins Cohen to provide backing vocals on this most purely musical of Cohen’s albums.

After the jump, Cohen meets Phil Spector, embraces the eighties, and emerges as an elder statesman of music! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 13, 2011 at 12:36