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.(more…)
This side two demonstrates that it is in fact possible to make a good “modern” recording, and to do so even as late as 1988, although you would need to go through quite a pile of copies to find a side two that sounds like this one.
The sound is clearly more artificial than The Man’s recordings from the ’70s, but that is to be expected, unavoidable even. Who could make records in the ’80s that sound as good as their records from the ’70s? No one leaps to mind.(more…)
This is easily the best copy of this album to ever hit the site, with a superb A+++ side one and an excellent A++ side two! This 1979 album marks Cohen’s return to the simple folk arrangements of his early albums. The songs are as stunning as ever, but only the best pressings really do them justice. As you might expect, the key elements here are going to be vocals, acoustic guitars and Cohen’s trademark female backup vocalists. This one really gets them all right, with the kind of big, spacious soundstage and full, rich tonality nothing else in our shootout could compete with.
We love these albums around here. No, they’re not audiophile spectaculars, but much like the best Dylan recordings, when they work the sound fits the music perfectly. The vocals are right up front and fairly dry, throwing the words and phrasing into high relief. Hard to argue with that!(more…)
A stunning sounding copywith Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish. The sound on this 360 Label LP is incredibly big, clean and clear with a solid bottom end and lots of space around all of the instruments.
Copies with rich lower mids did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural ambience and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to pressings from every era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.(more…)
Another BR rarity — Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
Here you will find a big, spacious soundstage and rich, natural vocals virtually no other copy in our shootout could compete with
Fairly quiet vinyl on both sides — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
“The first thing Leonard Cohen’s music fans noticed about his sixth new studio album, given the typically open-ended title Recent Songs, was that, musically, it marked a return to the gypsy folk sound of his early records…” – All Music
This 1979 album marks Cohen’s return to the simple folk arrangements of his early albums. The songs are as stunning as ever, but only the best pressings really do them justice. As you might expect, the key elements here are going to be vocals, acoustic guitars and Cohen’s trademark female backup vocalists (Jennifer Warnes among them). This one really gets them all right, with the kind of big, spacious soundstage and full, rich tonality most of the copies in our shootout could not compete with.(more…)
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.(more…)
A KILLER sounding original 360 copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – reasonably quiet vinyl too
Bigger, richer and clearer than any other copy we played – the wonderfully intimate, breathy vocals are the key to these amazing sounding pressings
Sometimes the conventional wisdom is true, and this record makes the case as well as any we play – the right original Columbia pressings are in a league of their own
5 stars: “A breathtaking and perfect debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen marked the emergence of one of the most enduring, unique, and brilliant voices in popular music… A masterpiece of perversity and pain.”
*NOTE: There is a mark that plays eight times, mostly lightly, near the end of track four.
Get ready for some serious goosebumps! If this copy of Songs Of Leonard Cohen doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will.
We’ve played a ton of 360s and Red Labels and copies that sound as good as this one are clearly the exception and not the rule.
The Red Label pressings from the ’70s can be quite good if you know which are the good stampers and which to avoid, information that the average audiophile record lover would have a hard time coming by.(more…)
What are the criteria by which a record like this should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, and on and on down through the list.(more…)
We had a big shootout for this live album, compiled from different shows Cohen performed in 1970 and 1972, and we’re pleased to report that the sound was killer on both sides of this copy.
Drop the needle anywhere and you’ll notice the impressive immediacy to the vocals, the clear transients on the guitars and the deep, note-like bass. Cohen’s voice sounds just right here — deep and gravely — and the overall sound is rich, warm and full.(more…)