Leonard Cohen – Toronto ’88

l cohen 88

Leonard Cohen
Toronto ’88

The Sound of a Man Coming of Age.

Where do you begin with Leonard Cohen? He’s always been an acquired taste; some love and adore him to the point of adulation pouring over his every word and utterance; while other dismiss him out of hand; without even listening to him.
Me? I’m an unadulterated fan; but can’t be bothered to delve too deeply into his ‘mystical’ lyrics; just taking them for what they are – poetry set to music.
This album is taken from a Canadian Radio Broadcast and apparently is one of his most easily acquirable bootlegs; but I don’t move in those circles any more.
With absolutely no introduction; which I found odd the recording fades up into Ain’t No Cure For Love; which is pretty note for note the same as the album version; as is Bird on the Wire which follows.
As expected he includes several songs from the ‘game changing’ I’m Your Man album which had only just been released; so it’s odd hearing I’m Your Man fresh off the blocks. It actually receives a slightly rambling introduction which receives a loud cheer (presumably the story was ‘of its time’). The song is heartfelt as ever; but perhaps not quite as intense as more recent Live recordings; but then again Cohen was a sprightly 53 when this recording was made; so perhaps he was still singing it as a seduction device rather than a Lothario looking back on his ‘day in the sun’ which the song sounds like now.
Tower of Song and Jazz Police must have been mind-blowing that night; but now they are righteous Classics.
I’d totally forgot about Joan of Arc; so it’s appearance while spectacularly odd, compared to the other songs; was a pleasure, especially hearing Julie Christensen’s beautiful contribution; if that’s not too much of a contradiction.
For me; I was initially intrigued and eventually overwhelmed by the two closing tracks; neither of which which I was particularly up to speed with.
I Tried to Leave You (from 74’s New Skin) is pretty much worth the entrance fee alone, then it all comes to a close with his rendition of Wither Thou Goest, alongside Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla and is genuinely spine-tingling.
The fades between songs makes me believe some judicious editing has been employed; although there are a couple of station idents left in.
A very pleasant memory of a special time in Cohen’s career; but it’s not a patch on Live in London which is a fitting tribute to a Master Craftsman at his absolute peek.
This disc will go into the collection; but I doubt will ever be played again.


Released February 5th 2016


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