The GB Album Club 045 - I'm Your Man by Leonard Cohen

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unclejam23

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Duders! Everybody knows this is the 45th edition of the Unofficial Giant Bomb Album Club. Everybody knows that last week, we blackened our rooms and explored our inner corruption with Dead Can Dance's Within the Realm of a Dying Sun. Everybody knows that this week, we abandon our folk influences and embrace modernity and synths with I'm Your Man by Leonard Cohen! This album was selected by @pauljeremiah (everybody knows) and you can listen with the links below:

Spotify:https://open.spotify.com/album/3gUw30X6A7WEGcRdv1nFr9?si=tQB5fl7SSAm50bR1IUd86Q

Apple:https://music.apple.com/ie/album/im-your-man/511065875

Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lD43sQBFt949GAYyNubpu6ZR7qLc-NiLk


The Unofficial GB Album Club! We gathered in a Discord to make a pool of albums, and then we chose one album a week at random to listen to and discuss. If that sounds chill to you then come on down!

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unclejam23

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I'm only familiar with the beginning of Leonard Cohen's career and the very end. Specifically, the first two folk albums and his very last one, You Want It Darker, all three of which are incredible. So I've been meaning to get around to more of his stuff for years, and at least in terms of popularity, this was the big one. And now that I've finally listened to it, I'm a bit conflicted.

On one hand, I think the overall musical aesthetic of this album is dated. The specific style of synths and the saxophones and the near constant background singers and just how canned some of the instrumental elements feel grounds this album a little too deep into the '80s for me. (Full disclosure: I think the '80s is the worst decade for all art. I'm sorry. I'm sorry!) This isn't to say that I couldn't meet some of the songs on their own terms. In fact, I'd say some of those elements were actively effective, particularly on "First We Take Manhatten." But still. There's only so much '80s I can take.

On the other hand, I feel like you don't come to Leonard Cohen for the musicality so much as the lyrics, and on that front, he doesn't disappoint. I'm more into cynical world-weary Cohen than I am "Suzanne" Cohen, and this is literally the album with "Everybody Knows" on it. Which is to say that I ate a lot of the writing right up.

So, again, I'm torn. There's something undeniably endearing about the album, but for me, the gulf between the quality of the writing and the dated production is a little too wide. I think I like this album, but liking it comes with some many qualifiers and caveats that it almost doesn't feel worth it. There's also a part of me that might be comparing it too much to what came before and what came after. To go from acoustic guitars and modern sounding live instrumentation to the most '80s of synth production is a little much. Moreover, You Want It Darker also carries the weight of his death.

However, even if he were still alive and kickin', this album didn't need to sound this way. But hey, it's got "Everybody Knows."

Favorite Songs: "First We Take Manhatten," "Everybody Knows," "Take This Waltz"

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redwing42

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"Jazz Police" may be one of the stranger songs we have heard in this club, and we heard "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" a while back.

I enjoyed this album, and didn't mind the 80s styling. Obviously, the lyrics were front and center, which is usually a negative for me. The mix allowed me to focus on them, however (I often have trouble picking out lyrics from songs until after multiple listens). The songs were interesting and varied. "First We Take Manhattan" was a great opener and really set a tone. "Everybody Knows" is tremendous, and "Tower of Song" definitely painted some pictures. This was the first time I've listened to a Cohen album, and I'd definitely revisit his works in the future.