Producers include: John Simon, Bob Johnston, John Lissauer, Leonard Cohen, Henry Lewy.
Compilation producers: Leanne Ungar, Bruce Dickinson.
Recorded between 1967 & 2001. Includes liner notes by Pico Iyer.
THE ESSENTIAL LEONARD COHEN manages the considerable task of documenting the career of a man many consider one of the finest songwriters in the English language. Easily on par with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in terms of sheer poetic power, Canadian troubadour Cohen started out, appropriately enough, as a prose poet before beginning a recording career in the late 1960s. His early albums, amply represented here, found him accompanied chiefly by his own nylon-string guitar, delivering dark, but often romantic, reveries atop folk-based song structures.
By the late '70s, Cohen's lyrics and musical settings had both grown more expansive, as is made plain here by judiciously chosen tracks from that period. In the late '80s, at an age when many of his contemporaries had long since retired, Cohen experienced a rebirth via the sardonic songs and spare, electronics-laced backing of I'M YOUR MAN, which gets the most space on this collection. By remaining a man apart from every era he moved through, whether the flower-power hippie days or the earnest '70s singer/songwriter boom, Cohen maintained both his vision and his credibility, making THE ESSENTIAL LEONARD COHEN indispensable to anyone interested in serious 20th-century songwriting.
Q (1/03, p.131) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...This is a genteel, 2CD stroll through the bardic Canadian's romance-pitted past. There are riches galore..."
Uncut (12/02, p.155) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...This is the kind of collection that converts non-believers..."