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Customer Review

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WAGNERIAN AND TACKY, 14 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Death Of A Ladies' Man (Audio CD)
There's something horribly sordid and alluring about this album -- my first ever Cohen and by far his most uncharacteristically bewitching. And It's not even the ever-dubious nietzschean Spector touch which seeks to apply The Wall Of Sound to whatever it hears. In fact, The Wall itself is so oddly built up that it ends up defeating the high and mighty aplomb it is known for.

The huge arrangements, the choruses, the rising and swirling cadences with all their monumental aspirations are there, but they sound bizarrely dwarfed. The mystery, I think, is in the mix. The whole wagnerian army is meshed together as one beast, with little sound separation. But then it's pushed all the way to the back. So Cohen sings (and hollers) above an otherwise lush and nearly indistinguishable sea of tinny sounds that strives to lurch forward into the foreground but can't. The effect is unique. Spector's massive backup comes across as thin and distant, echoing all over the place, while Cohen seems wholly out of sorts, forced to sing in ways he never imagined. And he does so with desperate grace. Then there's the rickety chorus of females coming in and out, like they're popping their heads into the room intermittently, warbling their lines in sensuous white trash tones.

Think of an ample and disreputable saloon with the a full string section and keyboards playing on an ancient jukebox at the FAR end of the lounge. Then, before the music reaches you, some twisted cowboy sitting midway decides to add his singing, backed up occasionally by the skanky barroom girls. By the time this mix has finished bouncing through the room and hits YOU, the effect is both pathetic and glorious, threadbare and deeply moving, comical and metaphysical; it's both muzak and great music.

It's downright tacky...but oh so beautiful.

The cover says it all: Decadent white 'customer' of a cheap 'gentleman's club' in a dark corner of the world flanked by two anonymous, overly-perfumed, and terribly young 'ladies of the night'. The music in such a setting would be the music you hear on this album. (I should've just said that at the start!)

How they did it, I dunno.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Nov 2012 19:52:02 GMT
I've read the woman on the right of the cover picture is Suzanne Elrod, the mother of the two Cohen's children, Adam and Lorca. The woman on the left, Eva LaPierre, is a Cohen's friend. So they are not "ladies of the night"...

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2012 22:37:18 GMT
Given the album's title, the song lyrics, and the look of the cover, one could hardly assume this. Quite the opposite, in fact. Perhaps a newer edition should state that it was a snapshot from their 'family album'!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Dec 2012 16:10:15 GMT
I agree. It's easy to think Leonard was in a nightclub. It wouldn't be strange. But if you take a look at the credits, you can read the names of the women. Google does the rest. And you're right: it would be nice if Sony released a new and improved edition.
Regards.
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