Top Artists – Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – Songs From A Room

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  • Boasting superb Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sound from first note to last, this ’70s Red Label pressing is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Songs From A Room you’ve heard – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both of these sides are big, clean and clear with a solid bottom end and lots of space around all of the instruments
  • 4 stars: “Songs from a Room’s strongest moments convey a naked intimacy and fearless emotional honesty that’s every bit as powerful as the debut, and it left no doubt that Cohen was a major creative force in contemporary songwriting.”
  • This is a Must Own Classic from 1969 that belongs in every right-thinking audiophile’s collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1969 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.


Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides are doing everything right — big, rich and full of Tubey Magic with a wonderfully extended top end and a more natural sound than most other copies we heard
  • Top tracks here include First We Take Manhattan, Take This Waltz, and the classic Everybody Knows
  • 4 1/2 stars: “A stunningly sophisticated leap into modern musical textures, I’m Your Man re-establishes Leonard Cohen’s mastery….”


Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Leonard Cohen

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More Five Star Albums Available Now

  • 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.”

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 on his own.

For those who wish to find their own Hot Stamper pressings of the album, we say more power to you. Our helpful advice can be found here.


Listening in Depth to Famous Blue Raincoat

More of the Music of Jennifer Warnes

More of the Music of Leonard Cohen

Reviews and Commentaries for Famous Blue Raincoat

I’m a huge fan of this music. It’s the only album Jennifer Warnes ever made that I would consider a Must Own record or a Desert Island Disc.

In my humble opinion it’s clearly her MASTERPIECE.

Key Test for Side One

Listen to the snare drum on Bird on a Wire. On most copies it sound thin and bright, not very much like a real snare. Let’s face it: most copies of this record are thin and bright, and that’s just not our sound here at Better Records. If the snare on Bird sounds solid and meaty, at the very least you have a copy that is probably not too bright, and on this album that puts it well ahead of the pack.

While you’re listening for the sound of that snare, notice the amazing drum work of Vinnie Colaiuta, session drummer extraordinaire. The guy’s work on this track — especially with the high hat — is GENIUS.

Key Test for Side Two

Listen to the sound of the piano on Song of Bernadette. If it’s rich and full-bodied with the weight of a real piano, you might just have yourself a winner. At the very least you won’t have to suffer through the anemically thin sound of the average copy.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

First We Take Manhattan

Don’t expect this song to ever be tonally correct. It runs the gamut from bright to too bright to excrutiatingly bright. Steve Hoffman told me that he took out something like 6 DB at 6K, and I’m guessing that that’s the minimum that would need to come out. It’s made to be a hit single, and like so many hit single wannabes, it’s mixed bright. (more…)

Leonard Cohen – Live Songs

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • Drop the needle anywhere and you’ll notice the impressive immediacy to the vocals, the clear transients of the guitar notes, two areas that most modern heavy vinyl reissues struggle with (and fail most of the time)
  • Cohen’s voice sounds just right, deep and gravely
  • “… for those who’ve formed a friendship with the words and wisdom of Leonard Cohen, this album finds him raw and naked in one of his finest hours.”


Leonard Cohen – Recent Songs

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More Singer-Songwriter Albums

  • Insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides AND fairly quiet vinyl – the best copy to ever hit the site bar none
  • Unbeatable richness and freedom from artificiality in the midrange allowed this one to tower over the rest of the field
  • “… a return to Cohen’s acoustic folk music after the Phil Spector experimentation of Death of a Ladies’ Man, but now with many jazz and Oriental influences.”
  • 4 stars: “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…”

This 1979 album marks Cohen’s return to the simple folk arrangements of his early albums. As you might expect, the key elements here are going to be the man’s vocals, the acoustic guitars and Cohen’s trademark female backup singers, Jennifer Warnes among them.

We love Cohen’s albums here at Better Records. 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.


Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Love And Hate

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or better on this copy of Cohen’s third studio album – decent vinyl for this title too
  • With sound that is both rich and clear, this vintage pressing captures the emotional intensity of Cohen’s music truthfully and completely
  • Features some of Leonard’s most famous originals, including “Famous Blue Raincoat,” and “Joan of Arc”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…Songs of Love and Hate captured Cohen in one of his finest hours as a songwriter, and the best selections… rank with the most satisfying work of his career. If Songs of Love and Hate isn’t Cohen’s best album, it comes close enough to be essential to anyone interested in his work.”


Jennifer Warnes / Famous Blue Raincoat – How Do the Heavy Vinyl Versions Sound?

More of the Music of Jennifer Warnes

More of the Music of Leonard Cohen

Reviews and Commentaries for Famous Blue Raincoat

What’s interesting about the Cypress LPs is that they come two very different ways. Most of them are ridiculously thin, bright, grainy and digital sounding. This explains why some audiophiles in the past have preferred the Canadian pressings: they are smoother and fuller.

However, compared to the good stamper domestic versions they are dull and lifeless.

The Classic 180 gram reissue that came out a number of years ago was somewhere in between the good stamper originals and the bad stamper originals. The better sounding Cypress pressings absolutely MURDER it.

As far as the new Cisco 45 RPM pressings are concerned, we’ve never bothered to crack one open and play it. It’s been quite a while since Bernie cut any record that we thought sounded good, and some of his recent work has been unbelievably bad (the Doors box comes readily to mind), so we’ve never felt motivated enough to make the effort.

He cut many versions of this record as you probably know, some of which have turned out to be Hot Stampers, but that was a long time ago.

Does the Audio World really need another Heavy Vinyl Debunking entry from us? If Heavy Vinyl pressings are giving you the sound you want, you sure don’t need to be on our site. Those sacred cows get slaughtered pretty regularly around here.


Leonard Cohen / I’m Your Man – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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.

How you will come by a pile of these pressing is another question. This album is quite hard to find these days. I suspect that Leonard Cohen fans tend to stay fans all their lives and are unlikely to dump their Cohen records except under extreme circumstances, perhaps even after they have them all on CD or on their Iphones.

This copy is also exceptionally quiet, Mint Minus on both sides.

Side Two

A+++, as good as it gets in our experience. So big and open yet rich and not gritty on the vocal. Huge depth and space.

The third track has more grit on the vocal, but that’s surely the sound of the tape and not a mastering or pressing problem.

Side Two

A+ to A++, with some tracks sounding noticeably better than others. Everybody Knows is big, rich and open, but First We Take Manhattan has processed vocals with a fair amount of spit and grit, as well as some smear. It suffers from the Single Syndrome EQ, brighter equaling better on the radio.


Side One

First We Take Manhattan 
Ain’t No Cure for Love 
Everybody Knows 
I’m Your Man

Side Two

Take This Waltz 
Jazz Police 
I Can’t Forget 
Tower of Song

All Music Guide Review

A stunningly sophisticated leap into modern musical textures, I’m Your Man re-establishes Leonard Cohen’s mastery. Against a backdrop of keyboards and propulsive rhythms, Cohen surveys the global landscape with a precise, unflinching eye: the opening “First We Take Manhattan” is an ominous fantasy of commercial success bundled in crypto-fascist imagery, while the remarkable “Everybody Knows” is a cynical catalog of the land mines littering the surface of love in the age of AIDS.

Leonard Cohen – New Skin For the Old Ceremony

  • 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…)