Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Mist Leaves No Scar

Leonard Cohen : True Love Leaves No Traces

On November 11, 1977 Leonard Cohen released the Phil Spector produced Death of a Ladies Man, often considered the worst album of Cohen's career. The kindest review probably came from Rolling Stone's Paul Nelson who described the record as "either greatly flawed or great and flawed--and I'm betting on the latter".

Despite having the feel of Dion's Spector produced Born To Be With You, a now certifiable great album, Death of a Ladies Man comes across as a producer/artist mismatch. After all Cohen's songs work best with the least musical adornment. Here, he literally gets plowed under by a wall of sound. Cohen says he was singing live in a room with twenty five musicians-- including two drummers, three bassists and six guitars.

Something Cohen would agree with in later years:

It was one of those periods when my chops were impaired, and I wasn't in the right kind of condition to resist Phil's very strong influence on and eventual takeover of the record. There were lots of guns around in the studio and lots of liquor, a somewhat dangerous atmosphere. He had bodyguards who were heavily armed also. He liked guns - I liked guns too but I generally don't carry one, and it's hard to ignore a .45 lying on the console. When I was working with him alone, it was very agreeable, but the more people in the room, the wilder Phil would get. I couldn't help but admire the extravagance of his performance, but at the time couldn't really hold my own.

That said I've become a little obsessed with the opening track.

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