With the recent news that Cohen has a new album, Old Ideas, lined up for release in January 2012, this mid-price one-stop for his entire studio output is a must-have for anyone still wondering why the man who actually wrote Hallelujah is any better than Alexandra Burke/anyone else who continues to cover the song beyond all meaning.
Still most feted for his first three LPs, the sparse, brooding and altogether transcendent Songs Of Leonard Cohen, Songs From A Room and Songs Of Love And Hate, this collection is a reminder of what happened next. Come the mid-70s, Cohen arguably appeared to have peaked, scrabbling around for aid from a fast-fading Phil Spector (1977’s Death Of A Ladies Man), before realising in the mid-80s that minimal synth arrangements could do for the poet-troubadour what the acoustic guitar did two decades previously.
Perfecting the new sound with superlative late period electronic peaks I’m Your Man (1988) and The Future (1992), Cohen would then largely disappear from view for the best part of a decade, spending five years as a monk at California’s Mount Baldy Zen Center. Descending at the end of the 90s, he entered the studio with former backing singer Sharon Robinson for a 21st-century renaissance with 2001’s Ten New Songs and, three years later, Dear Heather. Amazingly, an incessant touring schedule beginning in the late 00s brought the now-77-year-old a swath of new accolades.