Enhanced by a 3rd disc
Pieter | Johannesburg | 10/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 3.0 edition with its third disc is a magnificent retrospective. The first two discs draw heavily on Cohen's legendary earlier work like Songs of Leonard Cohen, Songs from a Room and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (Disc One, Tracks 1 to 11), and on later albums like Various Positions, I'm Your Man, The Future and Ten New Songs. The live albums are not represented at all, a great pity in the case of Live Songs of which Passing Through and Please Don't Pass Me By are particularly rare & unknown.
No doubt it deserves five stars - particularly since the artist himself made this selection - but I do miss some favorites, like the graceful The Window from Recent Songs (1979), Heart With No Companion from Various Positions (1985), which in my opinion would have been a better choice than Hallelujah (compare John Cale's great cover of this song on the I'm Your Fan tribute album) and Take This Waltz from I'm Your Man (1988).
I completely agree with the choice of tracks from The Future and Ten New Songs, especially the magnificent Alexandra Leaving, now joined by The Rivers Dark on the 3rd disc. Famous Blue Raincoat is joined by Love Calls You By Your Name to represent Songs of Love and Hate (1971). This album's masterpieces like Joan Of Arc and Diamonds In The Mine, amongst my favorites, have been omitted.
The Third Disc
Besides the aforementioned Love Calls You By Your Name and By The Rivers Dark inspired by Psalm 137 about singing by the rivers of Babylon (markedly less optimistic than the Boney M megahit!), it contains one further track each from Songs From A Room, New Skin for the Old Ceremony, Death of a Ladies' Man, Recent Songs, Ten New Songs & Dear Heather.
Gravitas at its gravest, Death of a Ladies' Man has a majestic arrangement in which waves of multi-layered doom-laden vocals unfold in crests and in troughs where a single female voice momentarily caress Cohen's. The instrumental sound is similarly constructed, so when waning a single instrument or hypnotic instrumental pattern comes fleetingly to the fore. With its overall drone-like ambience this song is as oppressive as Lou Reed's The Bells on the Street Hassle album.
This is a great compilation of Cohen's poetic and melodic genius, infused as it is with a unique spiritual quality. One can trace the maturing of his vocals; it became distinctly weightier and wearier from the 1992 album The Future. The trend has continued down to Dear Heather, and it makes the contrast between his voice and the female vocals even more sublime.
A great essential/best-of/hits&faves collection, improved...
Larry Davis | NYC/Long Island, NY | 10/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 3rd disc is short but nice, and it's up-to-date, as it includes "The Letters" from Leonard's last studio album "Dear Heather". It also has a track each from 2 albums overlooked on the previous 2CD "Essential"...the 9+ minute title track to his Phil Spector-produced 1977 opus "Death Of A Ladies Man" and "The Traitor" from 1979's "Recent Songs". The other 5 tracks are also essential.
Until a proper boxset gets released, this collection will do quite nicely...I just thought it was kinda CHEESY the way that Sony BMG took the exact SAME booklet and CDs (artwork, catalog numbers, everything) from the 1st edition and threw em into this one. They could have redone the booklet to match this upgrade...I mean, the artwok for "Dear Heather" is not even shown, yet it's represented in the 3rd disc.
Because of this laziness...and they did this on EVERY single one of the 21 "Essential 3.0" titles...they get knocked a star...I also bought the Springsteen and Heart titles..."
The Essential Leonard Cohen is essential
Jillian Racine | North Carolina | 11/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a thorough, well-produced overview of Leonard's musical career. I think anyone who enjoys his music and appreciates his world view would love this collection."