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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on April 5, 2001
Right now I'm listening to the man himself, "I'm Your Man", and I guiltily caught myself thinking that I actually prefer the REM version of "First We Take Manhattan" on "I'm Your Fan" to the artist's own rendition. I think for those of my generation (I'm 27), the heavy background vocals and synthesizers of LC's later work (ironic though it may be) is hard to digest, although we can manage to get past it through sheer love of his work. He is certainly a poet first and a producer second - though his acoustic work has a raw power that's hard to match. Also I find that LC tends to over-emote his own songs (for my taste anyway) - I prefer a delivery that is a bit lighter-handed and dispassionate, which most of the tracks on this cover album have. They let the power of the song (pun slightly intended) speak for itself, and give us kids the gift of these songs which many of us might never be able to palate otherwise.
I do think there are some snoozers on here, but none of the tracks really make me cringe (though I generally fast-forward past "Suzanne" as I find the approach a bit heavy and dull. It's hard to bring anything new to that one, it's been done so well by others. I love the cover of "Take This Longing", also "A Singer Must Die", and although others disagree, I adore REM's track. I can't even talk about John Cale's "Hallelujah". As a side note, I strongly urge people who like his track here to buy his "Fragments of a Rainy Season". His songwriting is absolutely compelling to me, though don't try it if you like to be handed obvious meanings on a plate. He accompanies himself on acoustic piano or guitar, creating a gorgeous and chilling atmospheric space, perfect for a rainy afternoon. But I digress.
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This 1991 tribute album reveals the broad range of Cohen's talent as composer in its dazzling variety of voices and styles. Following the prayer Who By Fire by House of Love, Ian McCulloch soars through Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye, adding his own melancholy twist to the song's sublime sadness; The Pixies storm through I Can't Forget at their characteristic fast pace, whilst That Petrol Emotion poignantly render Stories Of The Street and James perform a meandering but moving So Long Marianne. Stephen Duffy of The Lilac Time gently caresses Bird On A Wire, followed by the Ugandan singer Geoffrey Oryema whose Suzanne, embellished by flute and a trio of guitars, fades out on a click-filled chorus.

Quite brutal is David McComb's exploration of the sleazy Don't Go Home With Your Hard-on which shakes, rattles and rolls along with the best of the psychotic beats, while Dead Famous People, produced by Serge Gainsbourg, make a surprising success of a bubblegum singalong rendition of True Love Leaves No Traces. The star of the show is John Cale as he paints a truly great soundscape with only voice and piano in Hallelujah, a classic which would have remained buried in Cohen's own rather monotone version. Others are not so great: REM's sloppy First We Take Manhattan and Nick Cave's pointless Tower Of Song, which is better interpreted by Robert Forster.

Fans of Leonard might also be interested in the other tribute albums like the I'm Your Man soundtrack, Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat: 20th Anniversary Edition &Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen: Democracy. The one titled Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen by a selection of mostly country singers is not quite as memorable as the aforementioned although it does contain a gem or two. Overall, I'm Your Fan is a varied and enjoyable listening experience that brilliantly showcases the melodic and lyrical depth of Leonard Cohen's work. The CD booklet contains black & white pics of the artists and the lyrics to all the songs.
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on March 23, 2000
Tribute albums are not normally worthwhile except as coasters, but here we have my favorite such album. That's only faint praise so far, so let me add that Leonard Cohen is probably a better songwriter than a singer and this is a great introduction to his work without his less-than-amazing voice. For me the highlights are John Cale's and Nick Cave's tracks, but even the perfunctary REM take on "First we take Manhattan" is pretty darned good. This album, along with the James greatest hits album (seriously), proved to be ideal for long drives in New Mexico at seriously extralegal speeds.
P.S. Check out Marianne Faithfull's cover of "Tower of Song" on her new album, hmmm...what's that album called? Only Patti Smith would do it better.
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on September 24, 1998
The bands who cover the songs of Leonard Cohen sound like they are true fans and have been singing their versions of the songs for years and are happy to finally get them on record. The artists run the gamut from That Petrol Emotion, through The Lilac Time, The House of Love, James, R.E.M. and George Oryema. The highlights for me are "The Stories of the Street" as performed by That Petrol Emotion, "Take This Longing" by Peter Astor, "Who By Fire" by the House of Love and John Cale's heartbreaking rendering of "Hallelujah". Tribute albums are usually a high risk purchase (did anyone else buy "Surprise Your Pig", the terrible tribute for R.E.M.?), but I'm Your Fan is well worth it.
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on December 10, 2003
I bought this CD when it first came out in the 90's, as part of my R.E.M comprehensive collection. Since that time, this has stayed constantly near or in my CD player. Each interpretation of his songs highlights the beauty of the lyric he composed.
I would be hard pressed to find a favorite track. I am a die hard R.E.M fan, but I don't think theirs is the best (near the top, maybe). But I would have to agree with most about The Pixies rendition of "I Can't Forget".
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