Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Leonard Cohen: “Angels At My Shoulder: Live 1993” (2017) CD Review

In 1993, a Leonard Cohen promotional CD was released. It was titled Live! From The Complex, Los Angeles, Calif. April 18, 1993, and apparently was distributed to several radio stations. Since then, this recording has been released several times unofficially, on both CD and vinyl. I own it as Coming Back To You, which was released a couple of years ago. And now I own it again as Angels At My Shoulder: Live 1993. The difference is this new release includes three additional tracks, all from the Austin City Limits broadcast from July 12, 1993. I tell myself that I bought this disc for those three tracks, and that’s true, but the complete truth is that I want every Leonard Cohen release, official or otherwise, even if it’s an old release with a new cover. This new CD does include liner notes and a few photos, including one of Leonard Cohen with Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla, his backing vocalists on this tour, the angels of the CD’s title.

The song selections from April 18th are all from Various Positions, I’m Your Man and The Future. The disc opens with “First We Take Manhattan,” with a brief introduction by Leonard Cohen: “Thank you so much, and thank you for the items that you sent me – the monkey and the plywood violin.” This is the opening track of I’m Your Man, which was the first Leonard Cohen album I ever purchased. By the way, the sound quality on this release is excellent. “First We Take Manhattan” is followed by “Ain’t No Cure For Love,” which also follows it on I’m Your Man.

And then we get “Coming Back To You,” one of my favorites. Various Positions is my favorite Leonard Cohen record, for “Night Comes On,” “Heart With No Companion” and “Coming Back To You,” among other excellent songs. I should mention here that the song order on this disc is different from that on Coming Back To You, and in this spot on that CD is “Dance Me To The End Of Love.” But on Angels At My Shoulder, the order is the same as that of the original promotional CD. This is an absolutely beautiful rendition of “Coming Back To You.” “You see, I looked for you in everyone/And they called me on that too/I lived alone, but I was only/Coming back to you.” In this version, Leonard Cohen sings “It’s a hundred miles of silence while I’m coming back to you.” And I love the way Perla and Julie add their voices to the “comfort in the night” line. That’s followed by “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” also from Various Positions, and the song with which Leonard Cohen opened each of the concerts I was fortunate enough to see him perform. There is a radio station identification after “Dance Me To The End Of Love.”

Leonard Cohen then gets into material from what at that time was his most recent release, The Future, beginning with a good rendition of “Democracy.” He follows that with “Waiting For The Miracle.” This version opens with some wonderful work on flute by Paul Ostermayer. Leonard Cohen then delivers a really good rendition of the title track from that album. “I’ve seen the future, baby/It is murder.” The music from April 18th concludes with the title track from I’m Your Man. In this version, he sings, “If you want a doctor, yeah, I’ll uncover every inch of you” (instead of “I’ll examine every inch of you”). And I love the way he sings the line, “And I’d howl at your beauty like a beast in heat.” Yeah, he sings “beast” rather than “dog,” and pauses slightly before the word. The second time he sings that line, he says “dog.”  There is another radio station identification after “I’m Your Man.”

As I mentioned, this release includes three songs from the Austin City Limits show from July 12, 1993. These three songs are from earlier in his career. The first is “Bird On The Wire,” from Songs From A Room. This is a sweet version, with saxophone, and with a wonderful lead guitar part by Bob Metzger. “If I have been unkind/If I have been unkind/Well, I hope you can find a way to let it all go by/Just let it all go right on by.” That’s followed by “Sisters Of Mercy,” which was originally on Leonard Cohen’s first album. This version has two beautiful instrumental sections. This CD concludes with “There Is A War,” and Leonard Cohen’s introduction is included. “About a thousand years ago there was a very brief period of time that is now referred to as the sixties. It lasted eleven or twelve minutes before the hustlers and hucksters poured in, and it has become a kind of black hole in the national cosmos, into which all the noblest and fiercest aspirations of a generation sunk and disappeared. A kind of Bermuda Triangle of idealism. And this is the song I wrote many, many years ago, when I refused that seductive invitation to join in the general celebration of another silly idea.” There seems to be a very slight glitch during this song, at the 46-second mark, but it’s a good rendition, and I like the saxophone.

CD Track List
  1. First We Take Manhattan
  2. Ain’t No Cure For Love
  3. Coming Back To You
  4. Dance Me To The End Of Love
  5. Democracy
  6. Waiting For The Miracle
  7. The Future
  8. I’m Your Man
  9. Bird On The Wire
  10. Sisters Of Mercy
  11. There Is A War 
Angels At My Shoulder: Live 1993 was released on August 4, 2017.

1 comment:

  1. But the artist is amazing, they have dedicated their talents to everyone who can feel, thanks for sharing.
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