...the it has has to be this one.
Cohen is the man -the only true poet attempting a musical context. More articulate critics than me will always claim Dylan as the laurel wearer but his two and a half hour compilation is the absolute refutation. His work is not 60's, it is not bedsit it has an enduring quality very much akin to the singer's own feted inspiration, Lorca.
The range yet the consistency of the man is incredible (an aspect well articulated in the liner notes). The sparse guitar accompaniment of the first album tracks through the quintessential 80's greed indictment, 'I'm Your Man' to the 21st Century measured resonance of the heart-rending 'Alexandra Leaving'
Neither can I fault the breadth and balance of the compilers choice - who have gone for quality rather than fair sampling (thus rightfully neglecting everything from 'Death of a Ladies Man'). Additionally, all the tracks have been sumptuously remastered, an expression which meant little before this purchase but here means subtle layering of the never-intrusive backing instrumentation and providing Cohen's delivery with an even more cavernous echo. Whilst probably targetting newcomers to Cohen's work , this last fact makes for an enticing package to even the most die-hard completist.
Of the 300+ albums I own, covering a range of genre, this has immediately become the most important. I recommend it unreservedly to anyone who still holds the primacy of lyric in contemporary music in high regard.