- 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….”
- 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.
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
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…)
- 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.”
- 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…”
NOTE: A mark makes light ticks for 22 revolutions at the beginning of side two. The price of this copy has been reduced more than $200 from that of the last copy with similar grades.
Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl not withstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some amazing Leonard Cohen music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.
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.
Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that richer, fuller, more solid, more 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 about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate solid, palpable, real people (principally Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes in this case) performing live in your listening room. The best copies had an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)
- 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.”
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. (more…)
A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
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…)
A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
A stunning sounding copy with 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…)
- 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…)