Leonard Cohen – New Skin For the Old Ceremony

More Leonard Cohen

New Skin For the Old Ceremony

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish; exceptionally quiet vinyl too! 
  • If you’re trying recreate a solid, palpable Leonard Cohen singing live in your listening room – sounding just as his did in the studio back in 1974 – these sides will let you do just that
  • “New Skin for the Old Ceremony may be Leonard Cohen’s most musical album, as he is accompanied by violas, mandolins, banjos, and percussion that give his music more texture than usual. The fact that Cohen does more real singing on this album can be seen as both a blessing and a curse — while his voice sounds more strained, the songs are delivered with more passion than usual.”

This vintage LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is pretty much gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much in the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable LEONARD COHEN singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 54+ years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1974
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Original Vs. Reissue

The early pressings with the earlier cover are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that plays into one of the biggest canards in all of record collecting, that the first pressings are always the best sounding. For this album, having sampled a large group of pressings with both covers, we can tell you that the sample to sample variation far outweighs the early cover versus later cover variation.

And of course, whatever pressing we sell is guaranteed to be dramatically better sounding than any Heavy Vinyl pressing produced by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

What We Listen For on New Skin For the Old Ceremony

Presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.

  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Is This What You Wanted 
Chelsea Hotel # 2 
Lover Lover Lover 
Field Commander Cohen 
Why Don’t You Try

Side Two

There Is A War 
A Singer Must Die 
I Tried To Leave You 
Who By Fire 
Take This Longing 
Leaving Greensleeves

AMG 4 Star Review

Leonard Cohen was a poet long before he decided to pick up a guitar. Despite singing in a dry baritone over spare arrangements, Cohen is a gifted lyricist who captivates the listener. New Skin for the Old Ceremony may be Leonard Cohen’s most musical album, as he is accompanied by violas, mandolins, banjos, and percussion that give his music more texture than usual. The fact that Cohen does more real singing on this album can be seen as both a blessing and a curse — while his voice sounds more strained, the songs are delivered with more passion than usual.