Leonard Cohen

Death of a Ladies Man - Columbia 1977

Tracks: 1. True Love Leaves No Traces / 2. Iodine / 3. Paper Thin Hotel / 4. Memories / 5. I Left a Woman Waiting / 6. Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On / 7. Fingerprints / 8. Death of a Ladies' Man


Many will find it hard to believe their ears when they first listen to "Death of a Ladies Man" from 1977. The album does not sound like anything Cohen had previously released or or what was later to come. Reason: Phil Spector . I do not know about the background for the cooperation between these two quite dissimilar sizes, but a fact is that both are credited for the eight songs that the album has to offer.

Cohen's textual universe is familiar with themes built on sex , guilt , loneliness , and life in general. Musically we taken far in different musical genres as it is known by Spector. There is pop-ballad, country a la Hank Williams , 1950s rock and roll and pop, 1960s pop - all in all it is a bit of a shambles . It does not help the overall impression that the production is pretty flat , and although the instrumentation is varied and the arrangements at times grand; you are still left with the impression of a ”cheap” production.

The long list of guest-musicians counts Hal Blaine, Jim Keltner, Pete Kleinow, Steve Douglas, Bob Dylan and many more. The female voices are performed by Roney Blakley, Sherlie Matthews, Venetta Fields, Brenda Bryant and Julia Tillman.

Cohen's vocal seems oddly uninspired, and is in some cases there are almost like put in the background of the sound-picture, resulting in some songs appearing somewhat vague. You easily get to thinking that a problem is that the songs are simply not good enough.

I now believe that many listeners will find, when the initial shock has subsided, that there are actually good things to find. The only song I initially fell for was "Memories", which I believe is the only one that really has been a regular on Cohen's live sets. The song more or less might sound like a "Grease" outtake.

Also "I Left a Woman Waiting" may be a song that grows on yo; the arrangement is not unlike the old 1968 hit "Angel of the Morning" with PP Arnold. The Hank Williams pastiche "Fingerprints" is not without a charm either.

I would think that "Death of a Ladies Man" is the Cohen album that most likely to divide his fans, many may judge it out of the dartboard, while others may regard it a minor masterpiece. Others again, like myself , will find it a decent album lacking in some aspects, but also an album which has qualities to offer.

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