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on 21 February 2003
This compilation is the best in the genre of tribute albums that I have come across. The only thing lacking (and it is a black hole in terms of negligence) is a cut from Jennifer Warnes, who is the premier interpreter of Cohen's songs. Every artist on the disc shines, most especially Willie Nelson and Suzanne Vega. Nelson's rendition of "Bird on a Wire" is one of the classics of recent memory and how anyone can call Vega's interpretation of "Story of Isaac" "unispired" is not only beyond me, but belongs in another lexicon. It is brilliant and enthralling and any other adjective you wish to substitute for an synonym for great artistry.
Leonard Cohen, as a songwriter, exists on a very small playing field. Some would say that only Dylan and he could occupy the same base, in fact. Whatever one's judgement (and it always boils down to a a case of tastes, in these matters) there is no denying Cohen writes verses that are about as intellectually and poetically satisfying as anyone else around. These are not just songs, but angst-ridden tone-poems that are about real-ationships that most of us who have been through the seventies and subsequent decades can absolutely relate to.
I bought this CD when it was a mere cassette, about six years ago, and it still gets lots of play. "Story of Isaac," in particular, still strikes a nerve close to the main aorta. Perhaps to truly feel the deep import of this song, one must have a child him/herself. It ranks right up there with McDuff's reaction to the news of his family's demise in <MacBeth> in terms of emotional impact.
If you are not up on Cohen, give this CD a try. If you are, then definitely add this to your list, and if you aren't familiar with Jennifer Warne's fine cover album, "Famous Blue Raincoat," by all means add that one to your purchase list as well.
BEK
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It is mainly artists from the country, folk and singer-songwriter tradition that contribute to this 1995 tribute album which does not open on an impressive note. I do not like the vocal or instrumental arrangements, the tempo or Den Henley's voice. Coming Back To You by Trisha Yearwood is accomplished but the next one really sparkles: Sisters of Mercy by Sting & The Chieftains. The up-tempo treatment and the Celtic instruments totally transform the song, and it works somehow.

Bono then performs Hallelujah over subdued, atmospheric percussion and what sounds like didgeridoo in a spoken voice interspersed with soulful falsetto vocals. It deserves credit for originality but the versions of John Cale on I'm Your Fan and Jeff Buckley on Grace are more to my liking. In arrangement and delivery, Famous Blue Raincoat by Tori Amos sticks close to the original from Songs of Love and Hate but with some instrumental flourishes and a bit more soul and variation in the vocals.

Likewise, Aaron Neville's interpretation of Ain't No Cure For Love basically conforms to the pattern of Cohen's recording, with some added pop appeal. I'm Your Man by Elton John comes across as crass and messy whilst Willie Nelson's Bird On A Wire is beautiful, exquisitely arranged and sung with soul & sensitivity. Suzanne by Peter Gabriel is passable but one expects more from such a great musician with so much magical music in his portfolio; his version is gentle and slow with understated ambient sounds weaving in and out of the mix.

I'm no fan of Billy Joel's but I do love his cover of Light As The Breeze; it is powerful, rhythmic and appealing. Jann Arden interprets If It Be Your Will, the closing prayer from Various Positions, with elegance and feeling. The same goes for Suzanne Vega's rendition of Story of Isaac with its lovely instrumentation. The album concludes with Martin Gore's Coming Back To You, an acceptable interpretation but also quite close to the original from the Various Positions album.

Overall this is the least inspiring of all the Cohen tribute albums. The 1991 cd I'm Your Fan is strikingly varied, the one by Judy Collins is moving and memorable and the Jennifer Warnes album, especially the 20th anniversary edition with the 4 additional tracks, is graceful and elegant. The soundtrack Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man is varied in quality in style just like the aforementioned I'm Your Fan and it contains some real gems. Very few tracks on Tower of Song really resonate with Cohen's vision, or otherwise there is no real innovation with the exception of Bono and Sting & The Chieftains. Oddly enough, Billy Joel and Willie Nelson are stars of this show.
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on 2 May 2015
I have never posted a review of an album before. I review pots and pans and stuff, where I think my opinions might be helpful to others. Music is, however, such a matter of personal taste that I normally would not venture an opinion. In this case, though, I feel compelled. This is a bunch of smug b*st*rds trying to warp the great man's songs in their own images. There is not one track here which would stand comparison with Cohen's own rendition. Do NOT buy this album. If you need convincing just go to Spotify and listen to Sting's diddly-i version of Sisters of Mercy (wt?) or Bono's utterly execrable version of Hallelujah. As I said, smug. I am giving two stars here as I can't be bothered facing the fight with the Amazon star police which would be the result of my giving it one star. Zero is what it's worth. Btw, if you want a truly great cover of Hallelujah listen to k.d. lang's Hymns from the 49th Parallel.
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on 14 August 2005
I love this album.The highlights are Don Henley's take on 'everybody knows' which is biting and cold, Martin Gore's 'coming back to you', rich but still imbued with the pain of emptiness (miles better than Tricia Yarwood's version)and Tori Amos's 'famous blue raincoat', she is perfect for the song. The rest is still good but I am not entirely convinced by Billy Joel, I think he lacks the necessary depth and Peter Gabriel's effort is a bit sluggish.
Have to disagree with the others, I think Bono's take on Hallelujah is interesting and I like it. However, the ultimate cover has to be John Cale's which is avaiable on the album 'I'm your fan - the songs of Leonard Cohen by....' If you like Leonard Cohen you should definitely invest in this one too.
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on 2 December 2002
Whilst clearly superior to the other Cohen covers compilation, 'I'm Your Fan', this contains both heart-stoppers and inexplicable duds.
Tori Amos' delectably spaced out and soulful 'Famous Blue Raincoat' coupled with Elton John's successfully rocking version of 'I'm Your Man' are obvious highlights - but what on earth was Peter Gabriel thinking of in his pared down and just plain emotionless version of 'Suzanne'? However even he has to take second place to Bono in his prize turkey rendition of 'Hallelujah' - a magnificent song almost parodied in the form of a woefully failed experiment.
A worthy purchase if you already have all the Cohen studio albums, but one can't help but have the feeling that it is the essentially personal nature of the songs that alienate them from re-interpreting artistes.
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on 17 November 2015
I am a Leonard Cohen fan but mainly for the words of his songs as I do not believe he was blessed with the gift of a golden voice to use his own words , This album is really great as it contains upbeat versions of truly wonderful songs with one exception being Bono making a mess of the very wonderful Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen's wonderful songs are given the star treatment by an array of fabulous artistes, Bring on part two please .
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on 23 May 2014
They don't write lyrics like these any more . I loved this CD with my favourite track being Light As The Breeze - so beautiful and soulful. I found the music of Cohen through the Sons of Anarchy CD featuring 'Bird on a Wire' by Katy Sagal and the Forest Rangers - this remains for me, the most amazing version of this beautiful song.
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on 11 June 2009
This album has many great covers like Don Henley's Everybody Knows. It also has the version of coming back to you by Martin Gore. Although not to happy with Bono's Hallelujah but beside that great album.
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on 27 September 2013
I love Leonard Cohen and his music.Its interesting to hear other people's interpretation of his songs. Not so sure about this version of Hallelujah, but the rest is good.
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on 11 July 2001
The strong covers include amazing interpretations by Tori Amos and Suzanne Vega, whilst Billy Joel, Don Henley and Sting do justice. The biggest disappointment for me was the Peter Gabriel cover, that and the bizarre Bono interpretation.
If you have LC albums, then this is a good addition. If you are new to LC -this is a good place to start -although "I'm your fan" is far superior.
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