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Old 03-23-2009, 02:19 PM   #131 (permalink)
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22. Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man (1988)

The album that got me into the delights of Leonard Cohen's discography, and evidently the one I listen to the most. Like with Faith No More, I'm probably in a minority of Cohen fans that prefers his later work to his earlier work. While Songs From a Room and the aptly titled Songs Of Leonard Cohen are both fantastic acoustic folk albums, this here's the album which struck an instant chord with me. On the face of it, the thought of Leonard Cohen aiming at a larger audience by adopting commercial production techniques into his sound is pretty cringey - look no further than Never Let Me Down by David Bowie or Goodbye Cruel World by Elvis Costello for an example of how disastrous such a strategy can prove to be. By sheer contrast to the efforts of his 70s singer/songwriter contemporaries though, this approach has an opposite effect, producing an absolute gem of an album and, in my opinion, the guy's masterpiece. One of the reasons for this would be reining in the electronic studio effects nicely (only in a handful of places does the record sound at all dated, and nowhere near badly enough to drag the songs into mediocrity). Another is that Cohen is quite possibly my favourite ever lyricist, and that this is arguably the finest set of lyrics ever committed to an album. Thirdly, the songwriting is sublime, providing one of the best B-sides of any record (which, in the shape of I Can't Forget and Tower Of Song some of the most beautifully tender songs ever). It's folk-rock taken into the 80s, and benefiting from doing so massively. If it weren't for the fact that Ain't No Cure For Love is a bit of a turkey, this'd be top 10 stuff.
The best bits: Take This Waltz, I Can't Forget, Tower Of Song

21. Tangerine Dream - Phaedra (1974)

I'll admit that the very roots of electronica are another area of music I'm yet to have a good dig around in but f*ck it, I'm still allowed favourites! One of the most important albums in the evolution of electronic music, Phaedra is the sound of Tangerine Dream showing off what's possible with the use of synthetic music, treading a fine line between electronica and classical music. This is no more obvious than on the carefully-arranged title track; an 18 minute barrage of strangely melodic keyboards and eerie moog and mellotron effects, making for an at times harrowing series of musical passages. As with the finest neo-classical music, it could be an album in itself. That the entire album is composed of such masterpieces which push the boundaries of music in such a way is a credit to enviable talents of Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke and Peter Baumann - Mysterious Semblance At the Strand Of Nightmares has is equally as complex and effective as the title track, while Movements Of a Visionary takes things a step further, using heavily-treated voices to add more colour to the piece. Sequent C, clocking at a mere two minutes in length, is comparably accessible, and is an absolutely gorgeous piece on top of that. At times harrowing, at others beautiful, Phaedra is a rollercoaster of mood and texture and a masterclass of composition.
The best bits: only four tracks, so take your pick

20. Steely Dan - Aja (1977)

By the time Steely Dan came 'round to recording Aja, Walter Becker and Donald ***en, the spine of the group, found their attention to detail in their songwriting reaching a new height here. Here they leave the soft rock of their earlier works behind and truly branch out musically, leaving rock behind somewhat and opting for a sound which effortlessly fuses jazz, blues, r'n'b and pop. Even pop songs like Peg and Josie are carefully textured and fine-tuned to perfection, incorporating a richly-layered production style. Throughout the album, most obviously on the title track, are jazzy vocal harmonies and extended instrumental jams, while Deacon Blues is pure r'n'b bliss. It's a gloriously complex and layered album, delivered brilliantly and easily on the ear, and one of the best jazz-rock albums of all time.
The best bits: Deacon Blues, I Got the News, Josie

19. The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (1971)

We've covered the Beatles, now it's the Stones' turn. For such a drug-addled album it's amazing that it doesn't fade away half-way through, but somehow it keeps itself above water. Anyway, while Exile On Main Street never ceases to amaze me, the title track off Let It Bleed is one of the best songs ever ever ever and Beggar's Banquet flows majestically, I'm gonna go for the ramshackle masterpiece that is Sticky Fingers. Although the punchy opener Brown Sugar, the studio workout of Can't You Hear Me Knocking and the razor-backed Bitch are the exceptions, the album is mainly a laid back affair, combining the elements of blues, acoustic folk and the odd dash of country rock seamlessly. What results is an album of fantastic instrumentation (which allows new lead guitarist Mick Taylor to do his stuff majestically), heartstring-yanking masterpieces and thigh-slapping rockers. A weary, decadent classic of a drug album this, and one which benefits massively from repeated listens.
The best bits: Wild Horses, Bitch, Sister Morphine

And here's the new mixtape;

30-21.rar
1. The Byrds - You Ain't Going Nowhere
2. The Beatles - Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey
3. Human League - Open Your Heart
4. Love - Andmoreagain
5. Supergrass - Roxy
6. Tangerine Dream - Sequent C
7. Baaba Maal - Jamma/Jenngi
8. Public Image Ltd. - Banging the Door
9. Leonard Cohen - Tower Of Song
10. New Order - Vanishing Point
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:28 PM   #132 (permalink)
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22. Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man (1988)

The album that got me into the delights of Leonard Cohen's discography, and evidently the one I listen to the most. Like with Faith No More, I'm probably in a minority of Cohen fans that prefers his later work to his earlier work. While Songs From a Room and the aptly titled Songs Of Leonard Cohen are both fantastic acoustic folk albums, this here's the album which struck an instant chord with me. On the face of it, the thought of Leonard Cohen aiming at a larger audience by adopting commercial production techniques into his sound is pretty cringey - look no further than Never Let Me Down by David Bowie or Goodbye Cruel World by Elvis Costello for an example of how disastrous such a strategy can prove to be. By sheer contrast to the efforts of his 70s singer/songwriter contemporaries though, this approach has an opposite effect, producing an absolute gem of an album and, in my opinion, the guy's masterpiece. One of the reasons for this would be reining in the electronic studio effects nicely (only in a handful of places does the record sound at all dated, and nowhere near badly enough to drag the songs into mediocrity). Another is that Cohen is quite possibly my favourite ever lyricist, and that this is arguably the finest set of lyrics ever committed to an album. Thirdly, the songwriting is sublime, providing one of the best B-sides of any record (which, in the shape of I Can't Forget and Tower Of Song some of the most beautifully tender songs ever). It's folk-rock taken into the 80s, and benefiting from doing so massively. If it weren't for the fact that Ain't No Cure For Love is a bit of a turkey, this'd be top 10 stuff.
The best bits: Take This Waltz, I Can't Forget, Tower Of Song
This album was my introduction to Leonard Cohen too. I got into it when it was only a couple years old so the very 80s-sounding production wasn't noticeable to me then like it is now. These days I have to admit it somewhat negatively affects my enjoyment of the album. Like most of his albums it's bit hit-or-miss. As you mentioned, "Ain't No Cure for Love" is pretty bad and I'm also not a fan of the song "I'm Your Man", but for me "First We Take Manhattan", "Everybody Knows" and "Take This Waltz" more than make up for it.
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:38 PM   #133 (permalink)
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This album was my introduction to Leonard Cohen too. I got into it when it was only a couple years old so the very 80s-sounding production wasn't noticeable to me then like it is now. These days I have to admit it somewhat negatively affects my enjoyment of the album. Like most of his albums it's bit hit-or-miss. As you mentioned, "Ain't No Cure for Love" is pretty bad and I'm also not a fan of the song "I'm Your Man", but for me "First We Take Manhattan", "Everybody Knows" and "Take This Waltz" more than make up for it.
I agree with you about none of his albums being consistent and seamless brilliance in the way a lot of the other albums in this part of the list are, but this is as close as he gets for me. The title track is a little weak but as you say, the stronger moments more than make up for it (the last four tracks make for a sublime sequence of songs). As for the 80s effects, except for on the said tracks I've never really found them intrusive on the songs. Then again, I put the Human League's Dare in this list, so I like me a bit of 80s-style production then
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:39 PM   #134 (permalink)
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i'd have chosen the Dan's debut personally, but you have more patience than me clearly

'thigh-slapping rockers'>>>>>>
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:43 PM   #135 (permalink)
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'thigh-slapping rockers'>>>>>>
I've been staring at this bloody screen for hours yammering on about music like a vegetable - you can forgive me the odd linguistic slip-up

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Old 03-23-2009, 02:46 PM   #136 (permalink)
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I agree with you about none of his albums being consistent and seamless brilliance in the way a lot of the other albums in this part of the list are, but this is as close as he gets for me. The title track is a little weak but as you say, the stronger moments more than make up for it (the last four tracks make for a sublime sequence of songs). As for the 80s effects, except for on the said tracks I've never really found them intrusive on the songs. Then again, I put the Human League's Dare in this list, so I like me a bit of 80s-style production then
Oh don't get me wrong, I love 80s style production a lot of the time, it's just I'm not sure it was the best fit for Leonard Cohen. And my comment about all his albums being hit-or-miss isn't meant to disparage him. He's one of my favorites, but for whatever reason his albums usually have a clunker or two on them. Song of Love and Hate is probably my favorite of his albums but I'm Your Man is definitely up there too.
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:57 PM   #137 (permalink)
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Oh don't get me wrong, I love 80s style production a lot of the time, it's just I'm not sure it was the best fit for Leonard Cohen. And my comment about all his albums being hit-or-miss isn't meant to disparage him. He's one of my favorites, but for whatever reason his albums usually have a clunker or two on them. Song of Love and Hate is probably my favorite of his albums but I'm Your Man is definitely up there too.
Don't worry, I didn't think you were. As for the production not really fitting Cohen's songs, it's true in one or two places, but he turns it into an advantage with the opener and actually makes a pretty experimental piece out of Jazz Police with them. Let's agree to ever-so slightly disagree anyway

Songs Of Love and Hate is a good 'un too. I'm a big fan of the Future and Death Of a Ladies' Man as well - well worth checking out for those yet to explore the man's discography.
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:05 PM   #138 (permalink)
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Don't worry, I didn't think you were. As for the production not really fitting Cohen's songs, it's true in one or two places, but he turns it into an advantage with the opener and actually makes a pretty experimental piece out of Jazz Police with them. Let's agree to ever-so slightly disagree anyway

Songs Of Love and Hate is a good 'un too. I'm a big fan of the Future and Death Of a Ladies' Man as well - well worth checking out for those yet to explore the man's discography.
Yeah, The Future is great, though like I'm Your Man it suffers from pop clunkers like "Be For Real" and "Always". I actually saw him on tour for that album and he was absolutely fantastic. I remember "Waiting for the Miracle" being especially good live.

And I have to say I agree with you about "Jazz Police". I think maybe if he embraced the 80s sounds more fully on other songs like he did on that song, he could've done some cool stuff. Maybe my problem with the production on I'm Your Man is that he didn't take it far enough in a particular direction.

Death Of a Ladies' Man is one of the few Leonard Cohen albums I don't own and have never heard. I'd be interested in giving it a listen if such a thing could be arranged though.
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:07 PM   #139 (permalink)
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Death Of a Ladies' Man is one of the few Leonard Cohen albums I don't own and have never heard. I'd be interested in giving it a listen if such a thing could be arranged though.
I'm sure I can arrange something

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Old 03-25-2009, 10:01 PM   #140 (permalink)
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Holy Christ this thread just keeps getting better and better. Country, synth pop, post-punk, and now krautrock, jazz rock and the feckin' Stones. All very good picks. I'll be sure to check out all the ones I don't have already.

I haven't seen a Beefheart album yet though, I'll be interested in seeing which one you pick. Because there's definitely one on here.
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