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Some studio versions surpassed!,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Field Commander Cohen-Tour of (Audio CD)
Recorded live in London & Brighton in December 1979, this wonderful live album was released only in 2000. Cohen's vocals & guitar are supported by the voices of Jennifer Warnes & Sharon Robinson, John Bilezikjian on lute & mandolin, Raffi Hakopian on violin and the band Passenger with bass, keyboards, drums, electric guitar, saxophone & flute. Field Commander is far removed from Live Songs (1974) with its almost unbearably distressing tracks like Please Don't Pass Me By.
Most of the tracks come from Recent Songs (1979) and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974) whilst Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) is represented by three songs, Songs from a Room (1968) by Bird on a Wire and the controversial Death of a Ladies' Man (1978) by Memories. Some of these live versions have more depth, flow and sensitivity than the original studio recordings, especially those from New Skin.
One of those is the title track which has a segment of the old song Rum & Coka-Cola made famous by the Andrews Sisters, which adds a touch of humor. The masterpiece The Window, one of Cohen's most exquisitely esoteric songs with its arresting symbolism, also takes on a new dimension here. The backing vocals & the violin playing of Hakopian are sublime and Leonard deservedly acknowledges him at the end. This version is different, not better, than the original on Recent Songs.
The tender slow songs The Smokey Life & The Gypsy's Wife follow, the last rendered especially beautiful by the lute of Bilezikjian. I prefer this interpretation of Lover Lover Lover over the studio version by far; it flows beautifully, the texture is enhanced by the lute and there are new words comprising a final verse. The 1960s classic Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye with its stirring violin, is another highlight whilst The Stranger Song seems to exude more personality than the original.
The graceful vocal arrangements, oblique lyrics, violin & lute all contribute to make The Guests ache with a beauty beyond words. And how great to have a different rendition of at least one of the songs from Ladies' Man in the form of Memories. Needless to say, this rendition is less strained but retains a measure of intensity whilst the doo-wop backing vocals & wailing sax are ever so charming. At the conclusion, Leonard cites all the instrumentalists over enthusiastic applause.
Why Don't You Try gets a jazzy treatment with soulful female vocals - a bit like the track Always on The Future. Then two of Cohen's most famous songs follow to conclude the album. They may both be somewhat over-familiar by now, but this version of Bird on the Wire is genuinely soulful and the awesome performance of So Long, Marianne with its lilting rhythm and elegant instrumentation is worth it. As a matter of interest, Perla Batalla has a live version of Bird On A Wire on the soundtrack album Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.
Cohen's voice still sounds young here whilst the consummate playing of the band Passenger fits his music like a glove. Those trademark female vocals delicately enhance the music with subtle shades of meaning & feeling; in this regard, Jennifer Warnes performs a live version of Joan of Arc on the 20th anniversary edition of Famous Blue Raincoat. Bilezikjian & Hakopian add the final strokes of excellence that turn the album into a triumph & treasure. Field Commander Cohen ought to be in every fan's collection.