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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Tributes to Leonard Cohen are like a cottage industry — this is at least the fourth release of its kind — but the sound track to Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man has a unity lacking in 1991's I'm Your Fan and 1995's Tower of Song. (Another plus: no Don Henley). Pulled primarily from two of the live Cohen tributes staged by producer Hal Wilner, including the 2005 performance at the Sydney Opera House featured in the film (see review, p. 23), this set unfurls as an album rather than just a collection of tracks. If only it were a little more fun. You can feel the solemnity of the occasion in the respectful readings and muted backing. Even Cohen's most sparely lyrical songs came with a strong whiff of sex, and that quality is missing from most of these performances. Antony's unhinged version of "If It Be Your Will" suggests Nina Simone, another brilliant Cohen interpreter, fully animating the original composition, as does Nick Cave's snarling and emotional take on "I'm Your Man." But contributions from Jarvis Cocker, Rufus Wainwright and Teddy Thompson offer little but the chance to hear a distinctive voice singing a distinctive song, with no spark — or sexual charge — to inspire the performances.

Mark Richardson writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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