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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 15 September 2007
This, without a crumb of doubt, is my favourite album of all time. I know every word, every note on the guitar, I could recite it all backwards if you asked me to. I first was made aware of its existence one late, drunken night watching 'McCabe And Mrs. Miller' on the box, in the days before video, Channel 4, all of it, and the moment I heard 'The Stranger Song' I felt like I had opened the Book Of Revelation. That next day being saturday, I was on the train to Penny Lane in Chester to find that soundtrack. I stopped off at my girlfriends on the way home and sat on my own listening to the opening chords of 'Suzanne' and I was blown away, and to this day I remain blown by all of it - every album, every lyric, the novels, the poems - the man is just phenomenal. I had always loved Bob Dylan, from the age of about 13, but not even Bob engages me on the deep emotional level that Cohen does. The only other artist I know who does is Gram Parsons. Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye, Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley, Tom Waits, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Richard Hawley, Hank Williams Snr., Brian Wilson, Arthur Lee, Kevin Rowland, Fred Neil, Shane MacGowan, Christy Moore: there are lots who've come extremely close, but there's such a depth of humanity to both Cohen and Parsons, I find it hard to talk about their music, and what I love about them, without touching upon the things it reveals about my own deepest feelings. That said, just go and buy this album and delight in its infinite joys. It is like a book of the heart opened up for inspection, and the tunes are all lovely and timeless. It may not even be the best Cohen album at the end of the day, and it may not be the greatest album of all time: I'm not making that claim. What I am saying is: this is my favourite album of all time. If I can be buried with only one, make it this....
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Cohen's timeless debut has been enhanced by the addition of 2 extra tracks. The lilting poetry of Suzanne lures the listener into his world of romantic despair while introducing the essence of his sound: a deep monotone framed by sublime female backing vocals over simple but engaging melodies.

Master Song, Winter Lady and Stranger Song reinforce the desolate landscape although the melodies are less immediate. Cohen's genius shines brightly on the immortal Sisters Of Mercy, a strange mixture of the spiritual and the sensual that must be one of the most beautiful musical poems in the English language.

This delicate gem is followed by the powerful and evocative So Long Marianne and the understated Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye, both masterpieces of words, melody and arrangement - the female vocals on Goodbye is especially impressive.

Stories of the Street appears as a poem in one of Cohen's 1960s poetry books: Selected Poems 1956-1968 and deals with a visit to Havana during of just after the revolution. Interesting fact: The line "some girls wander by mistake" from Teachers was later used as an album title by the goth band Sisters Of Mercy: Some Girls Wander By Mistake

One Us Cannot Be Wrong addresses the beloved in a series of strange images before moving on to melodic whistling and ending with bitter shouted la la lahs. For those interested in other artists' take on Cohen: Suzanne has been beautifully covered by inter alia Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen: Democracy and Geoffrey Oryema: I'm Your Fan, while Sting and the Chieftains' celtic version of Sisters Of Mercy is available on the Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen tribute album.

On the I'm Your Fan tribute there are interesting interpretations of Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye by Ian McCulloch, Stories Of The Street by That Petrol Emotion and So Long Marianne by James.

This reissue booklet includes liner notes by Anthony DeCurtis, three black & white photographs of LC and two full-color paintings by the artist. Both extra tracks were originally produced by John Hammond and for reissue by Bruce Dickinson. The second, Blessed Is The Memory, is the more immediately appealing with its lovely organ flourishes.
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This was Leonard Cohen's debut album, and if, as the blurb on the CD says, his career had ended with this, his stature as one of the most gifted songwriters of our time would still be secure. Something I would wholeheartedly agree with! Thankfully his career prospered, and the old boy is still strutting his stuff today. This album defies time, and has not dated a bit. Like Bob Dylan, Cohen was way ahead of his time. A published poet for ten years before he made it with this album, he brings all his unique talents to bear in this collection of songs. I first heard some of the songs in the Robert Altman movie "McCabe and Mrs Miller", and was bowled over. So much so that I had to buy this album which includes them. Cohen's style is utterly unique. He combines his poetic talents to merge with his beautifully nuanced and sung ballads. They have this haunting beauty that is hard to describe in words. To understand what I mean you really have to listen to him, if you are one of the few who has not already done so.

When I have spoken to friends recently about Cohen, I keep hearing that he is too depressing. Rubbish, they can't have been listening to the same bloke, who I actually find to be inspiring. Every track on this album carries the man's own brilliant hallmark. The album was incredibly first issued in 1967, which is hard to believe. I found it late and was astonished to find it was that from that era as it sounded so fresh. I still have a lot of catching up to do with Cohen, and I look forward to the experience! I am not too sure about the chained naked lady, with a serene look on her face in the middle of a raging inferno, shown on the back of the disc, but then of course Cohen is an artist entitled to more Bohemian tastes!
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2011
I was a 15 year old in a boarding school. It wasnt 'the best of times'. Into this right into the middle of my 'O' levels came a record called "The Rock Machine Turns You On". This was a brilliant Island Record Sampler. On it was Bob Dylan, Tim Rose, Tim Hardin, Taj Mahal ... and I think "Sisters of mercy" by Leonard Cohen. I bought his eponymous 1st LP unheard and fell in love with it at FIRST listening. Far frombeing depressing I found it beautiful, moving and every track is excellent in its own way. It was an era when each great new artist was unique and special. To me Leonard Cohen brought a quiet beauty. A deep melancholic voice and a wonderful simple guitar backing to his songs. Suzanne is well known and one of the great songs of all time, but all the others are excellent.But " So long Marianne" about his scandinavian girlfriend, Sister of Mercy, Hey thats no way to say goodbye are stand out songs. I have to say LC is someone you either love or hate ... so the only thing to do is listen and make up your own mind up.
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This is a truly great debut from the man who has become the Master of the singer/songwriter genre, Leonard Cohen.

Recorded in 1967, when the man was already in his early thirties, there is a maturity to the themes explored that, when combined with the sincere and sparse delivery, gives the record an emotional intelligence and intensity that other similar artists (Dylan, Paul Simon) could not hope to match.

From the sublime opening bars of `Suzanne' through to the closing of `One of Us Cannot Be Wrong', Cohen quietly and without any egotistical flourishes draws us along with his tales of love, loss, life and pain. The songs are literate, lyrical. Beautifully crafted tales backed with simple melodies. The album is just a pure joy to listen to.
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This is the legendary debut. The lilting poetry of Suzanne lures the listener into Cohen's world of spiritual and romantic yearning while introducing the essence of his sound: a deep monotone framed by sublime female backing vocals over simple but engaging melodies.

Master Song, Winter Lady and Stranger Song reinforce the desolate landscape although the melodies are less immediate. Cohen's genius shines brightly on the immortal Sisters Of Mercy, a strange mixture of the devotional and the sensual that must be one of the most beautiful musical poems in the English language.

This delicate gem is followed by the powerful and evocative So Long Marianne and the understated Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye, both masterpieces of words, melody and arrangement - the female vocals on Goodbye are especially impressive.

Stories of the Street appears as a poem in one of Cohen's 1960s poetry books: Selected Poems 1956-1968 and deals with a visit to Havana during or just after the revolution. Interesting fact: The line "some girls wander by mistake" from Teachers was later used as an album title by the goth band Sisters Of Mercy: Some Girls Wander By Mistake

One Us Cannot Be Wrong addresses the beloved in a series of strange images before moving on to melodic whistling and ending with bitter shouted la la lahs. For those interested in other artists' take on Cohen: Suzanne has been beautifully covered by inter alia Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen: Democracy and Geoffrey Oryema: I'm Your Fan, while Sting and the Chieftains' celtic version of Sisters Of Mercy is available on the Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen tribute album.

On the I'm Your Fan tribute there are interesting interpretations of Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye by Ian McCulloch, Stories Of The Street by That Petrol Emotion and So Long Marianne by James. Stirring live versions of Sisters Of Mercy, So Long Marianne & Suzanne appear on the Live In London CD & DVD of 2008.
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on 24 February 2016
An early release and a good introduction to a fine songwriter, a man who gets almost as much fanny as me. He would make more memorable LPs but he would never write Looking For Lewis & Clark so I do have that, don't I? Read Sylvie Simmons' biography of this great man, a topnotch book, and what a life story.
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on 23 October 2014
One of the very first albums I ever bought as a teenager (on vinyl) and still one of the most evocative for me. Cohen as the great poet and maker of atmosphere.Now it is on CD I can sit through endless traffic problems with Mr Cohen( and the wonderful Italian Paolo Conte as my other choice) and arrive at my destinations without raised blood pressure and road rage and a with a more philosophical outlook on life..........
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on 15 March 2014
The quality of songs made Leonard Cohen's debut release something very special. 'Suzanne', 'Sisters Of Mercy', 'So Long Marianne' and 'hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye' immediately registered as the work of a great talent. The simple arrangements and Cohen's husky, almost spoken vocals focused attention on Cohen's lyrics which, of course were some of the most literate in rock. His melodic gifts were equally impressive. The tone of the record - sombre yet romantic - reflected Cohen's poetic soul.
He wasn't ever going to set the charts alight but here was an artist who was in a class of his own but he would fill concert halls around the world. His songs, his records would endure, beautifully crafted they captivated. His legend began here.
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on 3 June 2007
I got the urge to listen to this disc today. It's been a long time since I've listened to it in its entirety. Collected here are some of Cohen's strongest songs, the ones he will be remembered for: "Suzanne," "So Long, Marianne," "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye," and "The Stranger Song." Cohen, in his world-weary way, sounds so young on these songs!

"Songs of Leonard Cohen" was my first introduction to Cohen's music. I bought a used LP at a thrift shop for fifty cents and I became hooked. Cohen's words and music are penetrating, and took root in my soul. That's how affecting some of his songs are. Simply and tastefully produced by John Simon, this album is timeless.
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