leonard cohen

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Jeff Buckley: So Real (Legacy/Sony)

Jeff Buckley: So Real (Legacy/Sony)

Given that when Buckley died over a decade ago he left only one complete album behind (the breathtaking Grace) and a couple of EPs, it seems to have been remarkably easy to keep the product coming. A couple of years ago there was the Grace Legacy Edition which came with bonus tracks, a doco DVD and videos. There have also been a few live...

Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

Jazzman Hancock has long been a supporter of Mitchell so this tribute to her music -- with another longtime Joni sideman Wayne Shorter on saxes -- comes as no surprise. And Mitchell's music has long moved into that melodically flexible area jazz musicians inhabit. What does surprise however is Mitchell's guest vocal on Tea Leaf Prophecy where...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Leonard Cohen: Live in London (DVD, Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Leonard Cohen: Live in London (DVD, Sony)

Those who saw Cohen's New Zealand concerts earlier this year -- and even those whose wallets couldn't stand the cruel gouging -- will find much to enjoy in this, almost exactly the same show, here filmed live in London's O2 Arena last July. Musically this was an interesting concert (again, what you see here is almost identical, jokes and...

Chris Eckman: The Last Side of the Mountain (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Chris Eckman: The Last Side of the Mountain (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Eckman has been one of the cornerstones of the long-running and very credible alt.country outfit the Walkabouts, has released solo albums, and been a member of the ever-evolving Willard Grant Conspiracy. All of which should recommend him if you follow this particular path of string-augmented, soul-baring songwriting. But the material for the...

JORDAN REYNE INTERVIEWED (2009): Tales from the dark side

JORDAN REYNE INTERVIEWED (2009): Tales from the dark side

Jordan Reyne is one of New Zealand’s most challenging and innovative songwriters. Whether it be on albums under her own name or as Dr Kervorkian and the Suicide Machine, Reyne has pushed sonic and lyrical boundaries, pulled together electronica and acoustic instruments, explored noir-narratives and personal emotional states  . . . and...

Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Sony CD/DVD)

Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Sony CD/DVD)

“We have a fire on stage. If there’s any firemen in the area . . . “ This isn’t an announcement you hear too often at rock festivals -- but nothing was beyond possibility at the volatile Isle of Wight event in 70 when non-ticketholders stormed the site, the enraged promoter abused them for being ungrateful pigs and...

The Renderers: Monsters and Miasma (Last Visible Dog)

The Renderers: Monsters and Miasma (Last Visible Dog)

Once known as “the only country band on Flying Nun" (Trail of Tears in 90, their sole album for the label), this on-going project of Brian and Maryrose Crook has progressively taken a darker and deeper path the past decade. These 10 songs owes debts to old murder ballads, the Velvet Underground and the Doors, acoustic Neil Young,...

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

At some time in the mid Nineties I spent an afternoon in Melbourne talking with David McComb, the former singer-songwriter with the Triffids then Blackeyed Susans. He was as intelligent as I had expected given the depth of his lyrics in both of those bands, but he was also hesitant, slightly wary and gun-shy, and I left wondering how he might...

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2010 (Cartell)

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2010 (Cartell)

Another year, another compilation to accompany the Alliance Francaise Film Festival -- and a chance for an overview of chic music out of France. Big names here are Charlotte Gainsbourg with the electro-title track of her new IRM album, Nouvelle Vague (a previously unreleased version of Fad Gadget's Under the Flag), Rachid Taha (in...

k.d. lang: Recollection (Nonesuch)

k.d. lang: Recollection (Nonesuch)

Seeing kd lang -- "just a big boned gal from Canada" as she described herself to me an eon ago -- at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver singing a beautiful if slightly overlong Hallelujah reminded what an extraordinary talent she is. She effortlessly opened up her career from country music into big but soft-voiced...

The Triffids and Guests: It's Raining Pleasure (Madman DVD)

The Triffids and Guests: It's Raining Pleasure (Madman DVD)

Elsewhere recently noted the tribute CD to David McComb of the Australian band the Triffids who died in February 1999. That all-star concert released as Deep in a Dream was to help raise funds to complete a doco on McCombs' short and sometimes troubled life. Now comes this film taken from four nights of shows (which pre-dated the Deep in a...

Shawn Phillips: Landscape (1972)

Shawn Phillips: Landscape (1972)

Back in the late Sixties/early Seventies, the American folk-rocker Phillips was known for two things: the astonishing length of his hair, and a soaring falsetto. And although he was moderately successful at the time -- bigger than a cult, not a chart topper -- he barely gets a mention in rock or folk encyclopedias today. That's...

NICK CAVE, THE SEEDY MIDDLE YEARS: From Tender Prey to Henry's Dream

NICK CAVE, THE SEEDY MIDDLE YEARS: From Tender Prey to Henry's Dream

In the early Eighties the safe money would have been on Nick Cave -- then battling various demons and his elusive muse -- not making it much further. Yet here is Cave, now in his early 50s, dutifully going to the office every day to write songs, novels, screenplays and soundtracks, and curating arts festivals . . . And seeing his...

Richard Walters: The Animal (Kartel)

Richard Walters: The Animal (Kartel)

Many singer-songwriters are prepared to essay their fragility in life and love, but few offer the sense they have some deep emotional strength to leaven the mix and lift their songs out of self-pity. This Paris-based Englishman is a rare one. He can push easily into a falsetto but, as with Jeff Buckley (whose style he otherwise doesn't...

Francoise Hardy: La Pluie Sans Parapluie (Virgin)

Francoise Hardy: La Pluie Sans Parapluie (Virgin)

At first glance this might just seem to be one for those who knew the title meant "Rain Without an Umbrella" or just want a bit of that breathy chanteuse mood music for dinner parties. But if you are in the latter camp you will be a little surprised: although this certainly has reflective ballads over piano and soft strings, Hardy's...

Various Artists: Got No Chains; The Songs of the Walkabouts (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Various Artists: Got No Chains; The Songs of the Walkabouts (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

The Walkabouts have -- for 25 years -- been the vehicle for songwriter Chris Eckman (see here) and Carla Torgerson who have been mainstays in a band with a revloving door membership. Some might push the Walkabouts into the broader indie-rock or alt.country category, but as this tribute illustrates, their songs are so malleable that they...

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

The equation seems simple: Leonard Cohen the self-described "ladies man" + women + bed = But of course nothing is ever quite that straightforward with a Jewish Zen Buddhist poet-cum-singer and unlikely sex symbol even his mid 70s. Here with amusing self-effacement he confronts aging, his reputation, plays with images of...

Brix E. Smith and Nigel Kennedy: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1991)

Brix E. Smith and Nigel Kennedy: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1991)

Tribute albums can be dodgy: some are fun, and the more obscure the artists the better they get. But you are wise to avoid the Joy Division tribute A Means to an End which features those household names Honeymoon Stitch, Girls Against Boys, Starchildren and godheadSILO. Or any of those to Tom Waits. But how can you resist an album of...

Leonard Cohen: The Essential Leonard Cohen (Sony)

Leonard Cohen: The Essential Leonard Cohen (Sony)

The British rock writer Nigel Williamson, considering the career of Leonard Cohen, recently observed, “We often describe singer-songwriters as being 'Dylanesque', a band with great harmonies you might describe as 'Beatlesque'. We even talk about someone being 'Waitsean', after Tom Waits. “But have you ever heard the word...

LEONARD COHEN PROFILED: Life of a ladies' man

LEONARD COHEN PROFILED: Life of a ladies' man

Even the writer Pico Iyer, who knows him better than most, concedes Leonard Cohen – so melancholy he used to be referred to as “a one man Joy Division” – presents a problem. "He is for most of us,” Iyer wrote in Sun After Dark, “a figure of the dark, sitting alone sometime after midnight and...

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (Light in the Attic)

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (Light in the Attic)

Sex sells. It certainly sells the idea of maturity when former popettes decide to ditch the little sister look and get into barely-there leathers. Adults of course find this tasteless and the kids being manipulated, but it's nothing more than sex selling a product just like any other. Sex gets people hot under the collar (as in outraged) and...

BRUCE COCKBURN PROFILED (2010): Poet with a rocket launcher

BRUCE COCKBURN PROFILED (2010): Poet with a rocket launcher

Most people looking at the life of Bruce Cockburn come away saying the same thing: “You mean he made music as well?" Canadian singer-songwriter Cockburn has his biography punctuated by stories about being in Mozambique while snipers were out, getting drunk in Kathmandu, travels through nervous Central and South American...

JACQUES BREL PROFILED: Seasons in, and out of, the sun

JACQUES BREL PROFILED: Seasons in, and out of, the sun

Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in ... Well, back in his hometown of Brussels, funnily enough. This is odd because Brel (1929-78) was ambivalent about Brussels. "Everyone has to come from somewhere," he would sardonically remark. And Brussels has often seemed a bit iffy about him. The great singer-songwriter, who...

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

In his recent collection of essays Listen to This, the New Yorker music critic Alex Ross has an interesting and provocative piece on Bob Dylan. It opens, “America is no country for old men. Pop culture is a pedophile's delight” then he ask what – in this world of manufactured teen pop – we are to do with “a...

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez has never had her rediscovery by a new generation, but this reissue of her excellent folk-rock album of ' 92 – with an extra disc of demos including Dylan's early Seven Curses which only appeared on his recent Witmark Demos 1962-64 – is a smart starting place as it found her back in Nashville after a 20 year absence and...

L/O/N/G: American Primitive (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

L/O/N/G: American Primitive (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Those with passion for edgy alt.country and Neil Young in vinegary acoustic-rock mode need only know Chris Eckman (the Walkabouts, the innovative Sahara blues-influenced band Dirt Music) is one of those behind this occasionally churning, electro-rock outing with musicians from Slovenia where he now lives. The other prime mover is Rupert...

NICK CAVE, FROM OUTSIDER TO AUTEUR IN THE NINETIES: Let Love In to No More Shall We Part

NICK CAVE, FROM OUTSIDER TO AUTEUR IN THE NINETIES: Let Love In to No More Shall We Part

From the early Nineties, Nick Cave -- ever so slowly -- ceased to be a preoccupation of those who immersed themselves in the gloom of his raw and dirty blues-based music and became a respected, almost mainstream figure. You could mention him in most conversations and people would know who you meant. Songs like Straight To You,...

Bruce Cockburn: Small Source of Comfort (True North)

Bruce Cockburn: Small Source of Comfort (True North)

Bruce Cockburn – whose sole skirmish with chart success was Wondering Where The Lions Are in 1980 – is the Richard Thompson of Canada. And if you don't get the reference that's the point. Both are respected and influential folk-rock songwriters/guitarists, but their gifts go largely unacknowledged beyond admiring musicians,...

The Webb Sisters: Savages (Proper)

The Webb Sisters: Savages (Proper)

Best known in the wider world as part of Leonard Cohen's touring band – the backing vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and cartwheelers – Charley and Hattie from Kent have at the studio desk here uber-producer, heavy-hitter and fan Peter Asher (James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, longtime senior vice-president at Sony). And you can guess...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Prebble (aka Bond Street Bridge)

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Prebble (aka Bond Street Bridge)

Auckland singer-songwriter Sam Prebble -- who performs under moniker Bond Street Bridge (the actual bridge just around the corner from me, so he's one of my "homies") -- is a longtime Elsewhere favourite. His intelligent lyrics, understated delivery and sense of the melodic was all over his wonderful debut album The Mapmaker's Art,...

HOWL, a film by ROB EPSTEIN and JEFFREY FRIEDMAN

HOWL, a film by ROB EPSTEIN and JEFFREY FRIEDMAN

The three parallel, intercutting narratives here in this story of Allen Gisnberg's famous, half-hour poem Howl and the subsequent obscenity trial can be off-outting at first, and in truth don't serve the film or poet especially well. But for those new to the subject its slightly racy, post-modern attitude is bound to have considerable appeal....

Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems (Sony)

Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems (Sony)

Although he long had the reputation of a “one-man Joy Division” or “Laughing Len” in reference to his gloom-soaked melancholy, Leonard Cohen always had an increasingly self-deflating streak. Just as he opened his Ten New Songs album of 2001 with the whispery and wry In My Secret Life (written and revised over a...

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