Monday, March 24, 2008

Leonard Cohen covered

The Walkmen have just released four (fairly faithful) Leonard Cohen covers, which are available here at Daytrotter. The NYC band, still most famous for the use of We've Been Had in a Saturn ad, is no stranger to the cover-song. Their last full length release was a track-by-track cover of Harry Nilsson's 1974 album Pussy Cats. Like the current trend to perform albums live in their entirety (think Roger Waters and The Wall or Sonic Youth revisiting Daydream Nation last year), there seems to be a trend towards the full-album remake. The earliest example I can think of (beyond instrumental jazz records of pop albums) is Laibach's Let it Be, which was an industrial version of the Beatle's final record, in its entirety, excising the title track. Others include The Dirty Dozen Brass Band performing Marvin Gaye's What's Going On , Pussy Galore tackling Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones, Japancakes version of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless and Meet the Beatles, performed and retitled Meet the Smithereens.

Leonard Cohen is also no stranger to the cover version. Praise for the singer-songwriter usually involves the latter half of the tag, and there are at least three tribute albums currently available: Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat, Tower of Song, and (the superior, if still quite flawed) I'm Your Fan. Hallelujah feels fated to become the indie Yesterday, with more covers than one could count. Of course, it's actually a cover of a cover, as most versions refer to Jeff Buckley's take, which borrowed heavily from the John Cale version (as evidenced by the fact that they all omit the same verse).

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