On The Turntable #15: Leonard Cohen „Death of a Ladies‘ Man”

When Leonard Cohen’s infamous album Death of a Ladies’ Man was released in 1977, it was greeted with bad reviews.

But don’t believe in bad reviews; make up your mind yourself: This writer always liked Leonard Cohen’s atypical 1977 album Death Of a Ladies‘ Man a lot, with all its lewdness in the lyrics and Cohen’s lecherous crooning over Phil Spector’s bombastic, kitschy arrangements.

In the years to come Cohen distanced him from his fifth studio album, which sounded like nothing on his previous or later records, which were all more appreciated and a lot more successful. Maybe Cohen didn’t like it later on because its songs didn’t portray him so much as a sensitive, romantic poet but someone more ordinary. Maybe he didn’t like to remember working with Spector, because his collaboration with the egomaniacal producer wasn’t low-friction and peaceful at all. Spector, who turned out to be a violent lunatic in the studio, tried to chase his big success with girl groups like The Ronettes in the sixties. He is listed in the credits as composer and producer of all the music on the album. The intense poetry was written and sung by Leonard Cohen. Spector and Cohen seemed to seek for something long gone – like two horny old guys yearning for some emotion and eroticism in their lonely, dissatisfied lives. But then Death of a Ladies’ Man is no reality show – it’s art.

The writer of these lines listened most of the time with gusto to songs like „Memories”, „True Love Leaves No Traces”, „I Left a Woman Waiting”, the indecent „Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” and the blistering agony of the title song at the end of the record. Honestly, he still does. He’s attending Death of a Ladies’ Man once in a while and enjoys what’s going on there. It may be sleazy, politically not totally correct, kind of not very civilized. But it works with great effect.

Leonard Cohen Death of a Ladies Man, CBS Records, 1977

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17 & 4 Favoriten von 2017, 6 Lieblingsscheiben von 2016

Meine meist gehörten Platten in diesem Jahr.

2017 ist zu drei Viertel gelaufen, ein guter Zeitpunkt, hier eine erste, gewohnt persönliche und unbestechliche, popmusikalische Bilanz zu ziehen, bevor die letzte große vorweihnachtliche Veröffentlichungswelle anrollt.

Es störte mich aber nicht, würden bis Jahresende überhaupt keine neuen Platten mehr erscheinen. Diese erste 2017er Auslese ist schon mehr als genug für mich, und auch meine allerliebsten 2016er Alben haben nichts von ihrer Wirkung verloren und wollen weiter gehört werden. Außerdem muss ich Musik zum Glück ja nicht mehr nach Veröffentlichungsdatum hören und subito meinen Senf dazugeben, sondern nach Gusto, Laune und Gelegenheit, egal ob alt oder neu.

Aber gut, die Spielregeln sind andere. Ein Jahr hat nun mal zwölf Monate, nicht neun. Also hat die Musikindustrie  ihre Schleusentore weiter geöffnet: Auf das Comeback-Album von LCD Sound System folgten neue LPs von Arcade Fire, Angus & Julia Stone, Fleet Foxes, Benjamin Clementine, Kelela, The Killers, Sparks, Marc Almond, Carla Bruni, Yusuf alias Cat Stevens, Beatle Ringo Starr, Van Morrison, Randy Newman, Gregg Allman, Little Steven, David Crosby, Kamasi Washington, Gregory Porter, Sixties Mod-Soul-Pop-Ikone P.P. Arnold und und und. Liam Gallaghers Solo-Oasis-Album  As You Were ist draußen, Wandas drittes Album Niente auch. Wer soll das alles hören, von Kaufen ist bei vielen Leuten ja eh nicht mehr die Rede.

Wie auch immer, neue Scheiben von Björk, Beck, Noel Gallagher, Taylor Swift, Robert Plant, U2, Morrissey oder die BBC Radio Tapes der Rolling Stones aus den frühen 1960ern werden noch folgen.

 

17 neue Favoriten von 2017

1. Molden, Resetarits, Soyka, Wirth Yeah

Keine neue Platte hat mich heuer mehr berührt. Die Lieder auf Yeah wirken so vertraut und berührend, als wären sie immer schon da gewesen. Musikalisch zwischen der Cowboymusik von Nashville, dem amerikanischen Rhythm & Blues, dem Zydeco und Cajun aus New Orleans und dem weinseligen Wienerlied driftend, sind diese neuen Lieder von Ernst Molden & Mitmusikern große, herzergreifend menschelnde Kunst.

2. Brent Cash The New High

Mit den für Brent Cashs erste beiden Alben trefflich passenden Etiketten „Kalifornien“ und „Sunshine Pop“ kommt man nicht weit, wenn man The New High treffend zu beschreiben versucht. In den strahlend blauen Himmel und den goldenen Sonnenschein mischen sich auf The New High Zwielicht und emotionale Zwischentöne. Die Songs schürfen tiefer und gehen auch tiefer unter die Haut.

3. Bilderbuch Magic Life

Da mögen noch so viele obergescheite Kritiker geifern: Ich bin da neidbefreit und sage, Bilderbuch sind so wie Wanda verdientermaßen erfolgreich, weil echt gut. Austropop & Falco-Lässigkeit treffen hier auf Dada-Lyrik und Disco-Wumms, auf geschmeidigen funky Electro-Pop & ausgeflippte Prince-Gitarren-Daddeleien. Angeführt vom aktuell coolsten & cleversten Frontmann einer Popband: Maurice, der Gangster of Love, König der Disco-Kugel und intergalaktische Space Cowboy.

4. 5/8erl in Ehr`n Duft der Männer

Seid ihren gefühlten 2010er Welthits „Schneid di Melone an“ und „Siasse Tschick“ samt dem Album Bitteschön! gehören die famosen 5/8erl in Ehr’n aus Wien zu den Fixsternen in meinem popmusikalischen Universum. Ihr neues Werk überstrahlt mit seinen gefühlten Welthits „Cheesy Kern“, „Campari-Soda“, „Badeschluss“ oder „Geh bitte Bobo“ sogar noch seinen brillanten Vorgänger Yes We Does.

5. Neil Young Hitchhiker

Der alte Büffel hat jetzt endlich eines seiner legendären „verlorenen“ Alben komplett veröffentlicht. Aufgenommen in einer einzigen Nacht im August 1976 mit Neil Young an der Akustikgitarre und seinem kongenialen Sound-Mann David Briggs am Mischpult. Von „Pocahontas“ bis  zu „Human Highway“ und dem Titelsong hat Young fast alle Lieder für spätere Alben neu eingespielt, dazu gibt es mit „Hawaii“ und „Give Me Strength“ zwei bislang unveröffentlichte Songs. Hitchhiker ist das Missing Link zwischen Harvest, Comes A Time und Rust Never Sleeps.

  1. Dan Auerbach Waiting on a Song
  2. The XX I See You
  3. Thievery Corporation The Temple of I & I
  4. Lana Del Rey Lust for Life
  5. Paul Weller A Kind Revolution
  6. Saint Etienne Home Counties
  7. Stone Foundation Street Rituals
  8. Bertrand Burgalat Les choses qu’on ne peut dire à personne
  9. Phoenix Ti Amo
  10. Imelda May Life Love Flesh Blood
  11. Ed Sheeran ÷ Divide
  12. Bob Dylan Triplicate

 

4 alte Lieblingsscheiben, die 2017 neu aufgelegt wurden 

  1. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967/2017, 50th Anniversary Edition, DoLP)
  2. The Style Council Cafè Bleu (1984/2017)
  3. Don Letts Presents Culture Clash Radio
  4. Prince Purple Rain (1984/2017)

 

6 auch 2017 laufend gespielte 2016er Lieblingsplatten

1. Popincourt A New Dimension to Modern Love

Eine bezaubernde Song-Romanze nach der anderen: Popincourts Albumdebüt war nicht nur meine Lieblingsplatte von 2016, inzwischen ist es eine meiner liebsten Platten überhaupt.

2. French Boutik Front Pop

Schon lange nicht mehr eine so fetzige neue französische Band gehört. Ihr hinreißendes Debütalbum hält, was es am Cover verspricht.

3. Dexys Let the Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul

Keine Woche, in der ich dieses wunderbare Album von Kevin Rowland und den mal wieder neu formierten Dexys nicht wenigstens einmal höre. Und wenn doch mal nicht genug Zeit dafür bleibt, wirkt allein schon das sonnige Sommer-Video für „Grazing in the Grass“ Wunder.

  1. The Rolling Stones Blue & Lonesome
  2. Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate
  3. Jochen Distelmeyer Songs From The Bottom Vol.1

Donald Fagen: One Dan Alone

When ingenious US rock musician Walter Becker passed away two weeks ago, he left his Steely Dan partner of fifty years behind.

When Donald Fagen released his fab solo debut The Nightfly in 1982, his record company put a dumb sticker on its cover, saying “Donald Fagen is STEELY DAN”. Quite annoyed about it, I pulled the sticker off and hid it on the inner sleeve till this day.

When I posted about that sticker on Twitter, a comment said, that Fagen and Becker did tell an anecdote about one of their roadies on tour, who thought Donald Fagen was called Steely Dan, so he named Fagen’s keyboards “Dan’s piano” and some more.

So it’s possible, that this seemingly not so clever slogan was some kind of Steely Dan’s absurd insider jokes, hard to understand for anyone not being Donald Fagen or his creative partner and friend Walter Becker. But who knows for sure?

After his co-genius Walter Becker died untimely two weeks ago, aged only 67, that slogan however is the sad truth. Donald Fagen now is STEELY DAN.

Elvis Presley: The Day The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll Died

August 16, 1977: The man on the radio said, that Elvis Presley has died.

At the time when I wrote a first shorter version of this story in German, I have been listening a lot to some older Bruce Springsteen songs originating from his 1977 and 1978 recording sessions for his fourth album Darkness on the Edge of Town. They all hadn’t been used for the original album und were collected in the box set The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story released in 2010.

Bruce Springsteen’s sentimental crooning of “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)” reminded me of the cold, rainy summer of 1977, when punk broke in the United Kingdom and Elvis Presley, the King of Rock’n’Roll, died on the other side of the Atlantic in Memphis, Tennessee at his Graceland mansion.

The protagonist in Bruce Springsteen’s song hears “the man on the radio” saying, that Elvis Presley has died today. That wasn’t only for him devastating news. The same goes for millions of people around the world, and it kind of shattered my life too.

I still remember the day Elvis Presley died like it happened yesterday. I had listened to the radio in my bedroom when I fell asleep and the gentle sound from the radio escorted my sleep through the night.

But then at the end of the night I suddenly woke up, was wide awake and heard the newsreader heralding the terrible news about the king of rock’n’roll. It was just like in Bruce Springsteen’s song: “Now the man on the radio said that Elvis Presley died…“ What a shock, giving me the creeps.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t the biggest Elvis Presley fan in the world then. As a pop music fan I was raised by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Slade or T. Rex.

But then I watched Elvis Presley’s worldwide satellite concert Aloha from Hawaii on our small black and white telly. Boy, what a blast! Excited I searched further. I read that John Lennon had said, that for him the world changed totally in 1956 with Elvis’ rock’n’roll big bang “Heartbreak Hotel” and that his band The Beatles wouldn’t have been possible without the King of Rock’n’Roll. Being an avid Beatles fan I went to town and searched for a compilation of Elvis’ hits. Guess I bought Elvis Forever, a double LP with Elvis’ most famous songs, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “In The Ghetto”, “Suspicious Minds” and all that stuff.

When pubrock and punk came along, I had lost track of Presley’s newer music and the pictures that showed him getting fat were pitiful. But on the evening after the day Elvis died, I took the train to Linz, a bigger city nearby, with my best friend. Norbert and I had formed our first band together, named after a famous Elvis song and were deeply moved by his untimely death. We went to a shabby cinema, where we watched in memoriam of Elvis Wild in the Country, one of the better Hollywood movies he had made, being still in his prime. It wasn’t utterly brilliant, but it did a good job in soothing the loss we felt.

A few weeks later I was in town again digging for new records. In a small, groovy record store I found Elvis Costello’s famous album debut My Aim is True. A new Elvis had entered the stage. But that is a different story.

 

Sounds for the Summer Vol. 3: Dan Auerbach “Waiting on a Song”

Die zweite Solo-LP des Mastermind der Black Keys hat einen beschwingten Song für jeden Sommertag.

37 Grad draußen, Zeit für die nächste Sommer-Sound-Empfehlung: Dan Auerbach, wer sonst? Die Quoten für Jack White haben sich mit der Veröffentlichung von Auerbachs zweitem Soloalbum Waiting on a Song weiter verschlechtert. Auf die drei Jack Whites, die nach Erscheinen von Your’s, Dreamily, dem famosen ersten Longplayer von The Arcs, Auerbachs Zweitband neben den Black Keys, für einen Dan Auerbach fällig waren, muss man jetzt nochmal drei Jack Whites drauflegen. Der 38-jährige Auerbach überzeugt nämlich auf Waiting on a Song nicht nur als Songschreiber, Musiker und Sänger, er brilliert erneut als auf kleinste Arrangement- und Sound-Details achtender, geschmackssicherer Produzent, der gekonnt die Rock-Historie zitiert, ohne in die Retrofalle zu tappen. Nicht umsonst waren die von ihm produzierten Alben von Lana Del Rey, Valerie June oder Ray LaMontagne besser als deren nachfolgende Platten ohne ihn.

Das Warten auf neue Songs dürfte für Dan Auerbach trotz des eine Schreibblockade andeutenden Titelsongs eine relaxte, stressfreie Zone gewesen sein. Jedenfalls klingt Waiting on a Song danach. Anders als die schattigen Country-Blues-Balladen seines 2009er Solodebüts Keep it Hid punkten die zehn neuen Songs mit ihrem sonnigen Gemüt und rauschen mit Schwung und Leichtigkeit durch die Sommerhitze. Eine wohltuende frische Brise, die jedes Stimmungstief aufklart und für gute Laune sorgt.

Aufgenommen wurde größtenteils in Dan Auerbachs eigenem Easy Eye Sound Studio in der Country-Music-Metropole Nashville mit einigen Country- und Memphis-Soul-Veteranen, sowie Gitarren-Twang-Legende Duane Eddy, Mark Knopfler (Ex-Dire Straits) und Country-Altmeister John Prine, der gleich auch sieben Songs mitgeschrieben hat.

Vom eröffnenden Titelsong bis zum abschließenden, hinreißend poppigen „Show Me“ hört und spürt man die Freude und den Spaß, den Auerbach und seine versammelten Kollegen im Studio hatten. Und dieses Gefühl überträgt sich auf die Hörer, ob nun im satirischen „Malibu Man“, dem an Marc Bolan erinnernden Rock’n’Roller „Livin‘ in Sin“, dem Siebzigerjahre-Softrock von „King of a One Horse Town“ und dem für diese Platte programmatischen Blauer-Himmel-gute-Laune-Pop von „Shine On Me“.

Ein perfekter Soundtrack für  jeden Sommer.

Dan Auerbach Waiting on a Song, Easy Eye Sound, 2017

 

Sounds for the Summer Vol. 2: The Style Council “Á Paris”

The Style Council’s “Long Hot Summer” is one of the most beautiful summer songs ever.

How to brighten up the world in these often troubled times: Spinning some wonderful 12“- & 7“-Singles of The Style Council on the not new anymore, battered turntable in our living room. The Style Council have been founded by Paul Weller (vocals, guitar, bass, songwriting), still only 23 years old, and Mick Talbot (of Dexys Midnight Runners fame; keyboards, piano, vocals) after Weller disbanded in 1982 his first combo The Jam on the peak of their success. The Jam were driven by the new modern sound of punk & new wave and their love for The Who, Small Faces and 1960s mod culture, also by rhythm & blues and soul music.

Paul Weller tried in The Style Council’s music to incorporate even more blue eyed soul, funk and jazz elements and thereby creating a soulful, relaxed and joyful pop sound compared to the racy guitar fire, passion and furor of The Jam. In the 1980s The Style Council were responsible for some of the most beautiful, inventive, playful and even romantic pop music of the decade. They scored mainly in the United Kingdom hits like “Speak Like A Child” (1983), “My Ever Changing Moods” (1984) and “You’re The Best Thing” (1985), created some fantastic albums like Café Bleu (1984) or Our Favourite Shop (1985) and are up to this day one of my favourite, most treasured pop combos ever.

My all-time favourite amidst a dozen and more ancient Style Council 12”- & 7”-Singles in my collection, all bought in London, Hamburg, Munich, Vienna, Linz, Salzburg or some other European city, is The Style Council Á Paris from 1983. Drummer Steve White had then already joined the initial duo, the superb soul singer Dee C. Lee, later also Weller’s wife for eleven years and mother of two of his children, should follow some time later in 1984. On Side A of The Style Council Á Paris the wonderful yearning “Long Hot Summer” is slowly grooving in a compelling extended version. On Side B another three wonderful ditties are enchanting us: ”Party Chambers”, “The Paris Match” and “Le Départ”.

The impressive original Recording Information on the back cover goes like this: „These four tunes were recorded in Paris between the 12th and 17th June – they were recorded there because we felt they all had a similar ‘Blue Mood’ and a certain French flavor about them.

‘The Paris Match’ Paul originally wrote for leading French Chanteuse Suzanne Toblàt, who recorded it with a French lyric, though it has yet to see a release.

‘Party Chambers’ you may already know, though this time it’s in a different form with a special arrangement by Mick.

‘Le Depart’ is Mick’s tender piano instrumental which is to be used as the theme for a new French film in production called The Golden Lama starring Alain Mélon.

And finally ‘Long Hot Summer’ will be coming out of portable trannies on beaches, while some of you fall in love for the first time, and while others will fall out of love for the last. Enjoy!”

And last but not least an important excerpt from the original liner notes written by mysterious The Cappuccino Kid: „I’m just saying that this universe we revolve in (back flips optional) can be a sad and desolate place to inhabit. It can also be heaven sometimes.”

And this fits perfectly also for today. Enjoy The Style Council Á Paris!

The Style Council À Paris, Polydor, 1983

 

Sounds for the Summer Vol. 1: “Don Letts Presents Culture Clash Radio“

Don Letts super fab new album mix is the perfect soundtrack for a scorching hot summer day like this.

I don’t blame it on the boogie, but for my newest pleasurable musical refreshment I have to thank my cool Parisian ally, the great Olivier Popincourt, who’s already one of my favourite French musicians ever.

It was Olivier, who posted on Facebook one track from Don Letts’ new compilation album Don Letts Presents Culture Clash Radio. Not only the album title but also its open minded, wild and adventurous musical mix resembles the Don’s weekly 6music radio show for the BBC.

The song in question that Olivier posted is the programmatically titled “Summer“ by Bobby Goldsboro (of „Honey“ fame), released in 1968. It’s a fine song, right for this season and it seems that it could have inspired German singer-songwriter Peter Maffay for his yearning 1976 hit “Und es war Sommer“. But much more important was – the (for me) brand new information – that the legendary English DJ, musician and filmmaker Don Letts has a new record out. Oh boy, I had to search for that new one immediately.

The reason because I got so excited by Olivier’s news is that I’ve got already some of Letts superb compilations like Dread Meets Punk Rockers Uptown (double vinyl LP, 2001) and Don Letts Presents The Mighty Trojan Sound (double CD, 2003) in my collection and play them frequently. They fill my inner self with joy and make my heart and feet dancing.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the unbelievable life and career of this British music legend here are some facts about Don Letts, who’s wearing quite mighty, impressive dreadlocks. Born in 1956 as the son of Jamaican immigrants he listened not only to music from Jamaica like ska and reggae but also to rock ‘n’ roll from the USA and all the sixties pop and rock music being played mostly on pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline and Radio London. And so Don Letts was both: a dedicated Beatles fan from the beginning and an avid lover of black soul music and funk.

In the days of punk and new wave Letts became as DJ in clubs like the Roxy a key figure in the scene that introduced the young white punk rebels to heavy reggae grooves, befriended people like Sex-Pistols-singer Johnny Rotten and The Clash, for whom he also worked as video clip and movie director. When The Clash disbanded, Don Letts formed a band with Clash guitar player Mick Jones, the aptly named Big Audio Dynamite, recorded a few albums and toured with them. In the 1990s and 2000s he worked mostly as director of video clips and musical documentaries, like Westway to the World about The Clash, for which he won a Grammy Award.

There’s a lot more which could be told about Don Letts but you can read more about the man in his extensive autobiographical liner notes that come with the double vinyl LP (and also the super fine Digipak-CD-Edition, pictured left). But I don’t want to spoil these, especially not the amusing anecdotes which he recollects, like that about the long smoky London night when he became friends with a certain Bob Marley. But hey, read yourself and listen to the music of Culture Clash Radio!

Being only sixty years young Don Letts is nowadays still active as a DJ, well respected for his skills, musical knowledge and taste, and he’s sought after all around the world. His 6music radio show Culture Clash Radio for the BBC, which can be listened to in the internet if you’re like me not living in the UK, is running in its tenth year now and maybe this super fine new compilation is kind of a jubilee thing for Letts.

While his above mentioned compilations are strictly reggae only, Don Letts’ new one is like his radio show musically quite a mixed affair displaying varied musical styles besides reggae and merging them into a wonderful oneness. If you want to get political you can call Don Letts’ Culture Clash Radio a manifesto for open-mindedness, diversity and humanity in a most positive way. Respect!

Side A of LP 1 is so good, that at first I had to listen to it again and again before flipping over to Side B. Starting with the 1967 Motown groover “Festival Time“ by the San Remo Golden Strings which despite the Italian connection to the San Remo Song Festival stem from Detroit, including some members of the legendary Funk Brothers. The funky jazz-rap “Tukka Yoot’s Riddim“ by Us3, Baaba Maal’s poppy afro-rock “Fanta“, early Bronx rap “Magic Wand“ by Whodini and the funky reggae “Tribute To Drumbago (aka Last Call)“ by The Dynamites round up the simply irresistible, super catchy mix of this first side.

Side B of LP 1 opens with the ubiquitous sunshine pop of The Association’s “Windy”, the North African grooves of Cheb Khaled’s “Raga” or the Westcoast pop of The Mamas & The Papas’ “Shooting Star” are further highlights.

Just like Bob Lind’s sunshine pop “Elusive Butterfly” which is even better than Bobby Goldsboro’s “Summer”, Cibo Matto’s enchanting “Sugar Water” and Lewis Tayor’s blue-eyed soul “Lucky”, followed by the hypnotic “Fallout” by Don Letts’ second combo Screaming Target, that closes Side A of LP 2.

Side B of LP 2 is opened by “Summer” and the still more fascinating African-Arabic licks of “Persian Love”, created by German music wizard Holger Czukay (of Can fame). I didn’t know Nina Simone’s superb, soulful interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” that follows, but now I can’t imagine not hearing it again and again. The same goes for the closing track, the bass heavy Grasshopper Dub remix of Bryan Ferry’s elegiac dancefloor hymn “Don’t Stop The Dance”.

And this dance won’t stop, at least as long as the almighty Don Letts is on the decks.

 Don Letts Don Letts Presents Culture Clash Radio, Station 5 Ltd., 2017