Home Read Classic Album Review: Leonard Cohen | Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979

Classic Album Review: Leonard Cohen | Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979

Return to the Canadian troubadour's glory days with some pristine live recordings.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I wrote back then (with some minor editing):

 


It’s coming up on a decade since poet-troubadour Leonard Cohen released his last studio album, the apocalyptic prophecy The Future. But even though it seems Cohen, now 66, has abandoned the recording studio, his fanbase hasn’t abandoned him.

So his record label has been filling the gap with best-of sets, rereleases and live albums like this superlative set of tunes taped during his 1979 tour of England for the album Recent Songs. Naturally, the set list draws heavily from that disc (The Guests, The Window, The Smokey Life, The Gypsy’s Wife), but also includes faves like Bird On A Wire, So Long Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye — all recorded in the years before his voice turned into a croaking monotone. What really sets this disc apart, however are the performance and the sound — the band is so tight and the production is so clear and crisp you can pick out every plucked string and pinged cymbal. The only way you can tell it’s a live album is by the between-song applause. Otherwise, Field Commander Cohen could serve as Leonard’s latest studio album.