Leonard Cohen

Koln 1988

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Unless it was issued by some fan club, this recording must be a bootleg album drawn from Leonard Cohen's April 10, 1988, appearance at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany. Whoever recorded it had access to a direct feed from the stage, since the source clearly is a polished mix, with the vocals and instruments well delineated. At the same time, the sound is slightly muffled and not up to the standard to be expected from a legitimate commercial release. Cohen, speaking in English, notes that he visited the city's cathedral earlier in the day and lit a candle in hopes that the concert would be good. It is, of course. He provides droll introductions to many of the songs, in some cases alluding to his inspirations, such as when he notes that "Dance Me to the End of Love" had as its origin a photograph taken at the time of the Holocaust, certainly a risky remark to make in Germany, even more than 40 years after World War II. The set mixes older songs such as "Bird on a Wire," which is given a drawn-out arrangement, with then-new ones such as "I'm Your Man" and "Tower of Song" (which fades out to end the disc). Cohen fans will want to seek out the album as they would any of his recordings, official or not. More casual fans can stick to the legitimate releases.