"What a delightfully dark album! But if you know any Leonard Cohen songs, you already knew that, right? Wrong. This is dark even by his standards, a remarkable look at Vietnam and the 1960s generation gap from the enigmatic Canadian. Cohen being Cohen, of course, that can't be seen on the surface, which is what keeps the brilliant album brilliant instead of relentlessly depressing. The production style is extremely austere, apparently in reaction to what Cohen considered the excessive instrumental flourishes of his first album; whether intentional or not, this fits the lyrical atmosphere perfectly and adds to it.
While there is nothing overtly topical about the then-current issues at hand, youth alienation and war are addressed metaphorically throughout the set. "Story of Isaac," "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" and "The Old Revolution" are best seen through this lens. The album's token cover, "The Partisan," is a more transparent take on the horrors of war, and it fits well between the others. Perhaps most macabre is "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy," a chilling tale of a long-ago love affair that came to a tragic ending (and, characteristically, he remembers the year and what she was wearing!) This one hasn't turned up on any greatest-hits album that I know of, as good a reason as any to buy Songs From A Room. Amusingly, the album ends on an almost-cheerful note with "Tonight Will Be Fine" - perhaps even Leonard Cohen has his limits.
The booklet-style package features lyric sheets, a new appreciation by Anthony DeCurtis, and a sprinkling of pictures and interesting period memorabilia. Also new to this version are previously unreleased early versions of "Bird on a Wire" and "You Know Who I Am". I think they feel tacked on after the intensity of the original album, but they're interesting to hear on their own."
whatevas | tijuana | 04/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A much louder audio signal than the earlier CD. Still a good amount of hiss, but that's actually a good sign, as it means they havn't sucked the life out of it with lame noise reduction technology. Besides the louder audio signal, the most obvious improvement upon one listen are the high string parts on bird on a wire. Even more beautiful than before.
Definately worth purchasing even if you own the previous release. Great packaging as well. CD case is shaped like a small book, with a spine and bound pages within. Neat."
A Classic Album with deserved Remastering
Zak | USA | 04/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was so excited to learn months ago that Leonard Cohen, the master of poetry in popular music, was having his first three albums rereleased and remastered. Songs from a Room is an acknowledged folk classic and the sound on this album is incredible.
If you are a longtime Cohen fan, then buy this album for the updated sound.
If you are a newcomer who is even slightly interested in Leonard Cohen, then buy this album. You will not be disappointed."
Songs from a room done right!!
Anthony C. Slikas | 06/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hallelujah, finally Leonard Cohen's catalogue has been given it's proper dedication. It's almost a laughing stock that the previous leonard cohen releases didn't have lyrics. Cohen is probably the most notorious lyrist in the rock era, not necessary he is rock as we know it but he is of the modern era nevertheless. Anyway everything is perfect the appearance of the product in a digi-pak which opens up into a book with lyrics and some pictures from the appropriate era make this more than a worthwhile purchase. Infact it should be sold for more money than it's selling for on amazon because the value is that great. Did i forget to mention there's bonus tracks...and those are always subjective no matter how good or bad since they didn't come with the original album and usaully it's best they're left off for traditional reasons, but i won't comment if they were good or bad. However the mixing of this cd is beautiful, whoever did the mixing knew just what they were doing...not only is the vocals right there's this amazing seperation and reverbration going on here probably the latest recording techniques at work or the latest cd compressing abilities at work. I strongly recommend this, i recommend buying this CD for the 2nd time as it's worth it beyond comprehension. Give the other one to a friend who never heard of leonard cohen before, or sell it to the local CD store if you have one in your area, but i applaud you to buy this newly remastered CD."
Difficult to Love and Well Worth the Effort
William Hardy | Maryland, USA | 07/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is dry as bones and lean as a desert. It is the first Cohen album I owned -- on vinyl -- and it took me a while to latch on to it. But it was so worth it. Every passing year I seem to love it more.
"Story of Isaac" was the first thing to hook me; it is almost a chimera of two songs that are not closely related -- a biblical story from the point of view of the boy about to be sacrificed, and an antiwar song that recognizes the violence in all of us -- but they set each other off well.
It seems wrong to blather on and on about an album that is beautiful because it is so spare. When you look up the word "plaintive" in the dictionary there should be an illustration of this album cover. I hope the new remixes don't run over that austerity. This is music that gives you space to breath, and think, instead of pounding you over the head with mindless sound. I have the earlier CD, and when I play it I find myself missing the vinyl crackles."