Leonard Cohen, Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979 (Sony/Columbia): This recently-unearthed live document will increase the nostalgia of those who lament a crass postmodern age — where someone like Eminem is labeled "a great poet" — for less obvious cultural times. Field Commander Cohen is a prime slice of existential ennui and bohemian rhapsody from a period when the Montreal-born poet and singer/songwriter had fallen out with his North American audience, yet still ruled in Europe, where beautiful Parisian women continued to fall at his feet (poor guy!). Highlights include exquisitely wrought versions of four songs from Cohen's then-current (and highly ace) Recent Songs album — songs that at times approach chamber music with an ethnic Greek flavor — and old faves such as "The Stranger Song," which finds Cohen in surprisingly melodious voice for a guy who would later mock his own singing abilities in "The Tower of Song." Indeed, this is prime Cohen; listening to this album, it's clear why then-young pups like Nick Cave and Andrew Eldritch (who would later name his band Sisters of Mercy after a Cohen tune) so badly wanted to cloak themselves in the man's mystique. Rivaled only by Renaissance man John Donne for his intensely poetic evocations of the two great interests of the human race — sex and spirituality — Leonard Cohen's mystic aura remains undiminished by the passage of time and cultural trends. — Johnny Walker (Black)

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