Leonard Cohen “New Skin For The Old Ceremony”

New Skin For The Old Ceremony

In 1974, Leonard Cohen hired producer John Lissauer to help him create the new sound for his songs. Moving away from the heavily reverberating, simplistic arrangements of Songs of Love and Hate (1971), Cohen uses large vocal ensembles, banjos, jews harp, heavy percussion, strings, and woodwinds to create a palate that is, in my opinion, finally equal to the depth of the writing itself.

The album opens with one of my favorite Cohen songs, “Is This What You Wanted.” The record is probably worth its weight in gold for the horn arrangements alone during the first verse (listen, kids, right channel). Once the chorus kicks, with the broken, funky backbeat and the monotone call and response chorus, you know you have stumbled upon something brilliant. Although Rolling Stone called this record “not one of his best,” I feel that it must be considered a classic. Coming in at track 2 is the controversial, beautiful, sex charged new york anthem, Chelsea Hotel #2. One of the few songs Cohen co-wrote, this track details the alleged sexual encounter between our Hero and the one and only Janis Joplin. Songs like “There is a War” bring out the louder, more politically charged side of this artist. While “Who by Fire” is a stunningly beautiful octave charged and simplistic male/female duet which borrows from traditional jewish prayer to ask the question of how will we all die.

Still want to listen? Good. Me too. Full of good funky 70’s folk-rock production with a knack for the depressed and the overly beautiful, this record sings about all the necessary topics you need to get you through the end of march and bursting into the spring. Also, the cover art is so awesome that Columbia refused to press it on the first release of the record. And if Angels want to screw to this music, it can’t be half bad.

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“Is This What You Wanted”

:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Sony | mp3 Download | Buy from Amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1974 | Columbia | search ebay ]

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  • brad

    Great blog. Every once in a while I come across someone who I suspect knows more than I do about music, and you is him. I just found you, but I’ll be checking in regularly. Great writing, great song choices, great diversity..

    Keep it up!


  • This was the first Cohen album I owned, back when I was high school. I don’t own it any more but I do have a yen for those sexy backup singers every now and then.

  • W

    Lover, Lover, Lover is one of Cohen’s finest tunes. You’ve picked another great record.

  • philspector

    one of the greatest album from mister cohen!!!
    but for me the real underrated cohen album is “Death Of The Ladies Man”, it’s incredible (with probably his best set of lyrics ever!!).

    one day you should also speak about one of leonard’s friend Mr Lewis Furey . He made two wonderful albums “Lewis Furey” and “The Humours Of Lewis Furey”!!!! try to find those on ebay

    and thanks again for your wonderful blog, and the Cowsills album is a really nice discovery

  • Carolyn

    ust stumbled across your blog mentioning
    Leonard Cohen and thought you might like to hear ‘I Love Leonard
    Cohen’, a new track by Robin Grey:

    You can download Robin’s latest e.p. from here – http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/34069

    modifythevan releases music under a creative commons license – feel free to share

    Best wishes


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