Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Album Review: Leonard Cohen - Death of a Ladies' Man

After four albums of sparse, bedsit folk, and a gap of three years, Leonard Cohen released Death of a Ladies' Man in 1977 to general bemusement. The album was produced by Phil Spector and it features a cast of thousands on all manner of instrumentation. Everything, it seems except Cohen's acoustic guitar-picking.
It opens with True Love Leaves No Traces, which has a bossa-nova beat and a cheesy 'Love Boat' style melody. The rest of the album follows suit, Iodine sees Cohen do battle with a brass section and a Neil Diamond-style melody. He doesn't come away unscathed. By the third track, Paper Thin Hotel, Cohen sounds as traumatised as the listeners, half-speaking, half-mumbling a hellish scenario in the vein of Lou Reed's Berlin. Strangely, it suits him well.
After this the album lurches from style to style like a drunkard in a karaoke bar. Memories covers doo-wop, I Left A Woman Waiting is strange, spoken-word Lou Reed soul, but Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On is jaunty pop which never quite made the radio playlists. Not content so far, Fingerprints is pure rodeo country. "Where are you now my fingerprints?" Sums it up in a way. The NINE MINUTE title track brings proceedings droning endlessly to a close .
It'll take a truly bizarre Leonard Cohen album to out-weird this one.