Cohen described the record as 'Grotesque.' The cover is nightmarish! The portrait of polygamy shows all three characters with shark eyes, indulging the party out of habit, but sepia has beaten the life from it. "What happened to you, lover?"
Death Of A Ladies' Man shows not a furthering in the musical style and composition of Cohen, but an unplanned holiday in his career to the Moon of Phillip Harvey Spector: he may have gone for nothing, but what did he get? Phillip, in his typical appreciation for other musical talent, built his music and sonic wall to the skies, eclipsing any other contender to the affections of Cohen's lyrics. Classic Doo-Wop and smooth ballad progressions replace previously enigmatic chordal arrangements - percussion playing as Puck, subtly enhancing rhythm, is now the bobby on the beat-beat-beat, leading the law, all instruments (all hundreds of them!) fall in line. He brought wah-wah guitars, country music stylings, and songs with relentlessly unchanging dynamics. One party member whispers to another, "Who invited this guy?"
I'm reminded of the way DJ's now often use the attribution 'feat. (insert artist)' in their tracks. Is this Cohen's position here?
Although Spector has dismissed a further staple of Cohen records by placing his vocal in amongst the sound, as significant as any other lion or christian, Cohen's eloquence in poetry saves him from drowning and simply featuring in this episode. Some examples: Twisted similes - 'Your beauty on my bruise like iodine,' - Showing how love operates over selfishness in a testing and carnal situation in Paper-Thin Hotel. This idea grows in its application to Cohen's content in future records. Charismatic bravado - 'I walked up to the tallest and blondest girl, I said you don't know me now, but pretty soon you will' (this song works well with whiskey) - Controlled, both comic and poignant pauses in between associative lyrics in I Left A Woman Waiting. This talent shows no sign of wilting.
I knew I always had a cheeky spot in my heart for this record. Upon this re-evaluation, for all the pains of the participants, I'm pleased to say that my appreciation has increased, they have created a record that brings me excitement and joy. Over the eight tracks, many different emotions are covered, and although modesty and dignity are crying into their coffee miles from the scene of the crime, the evidence for the defense is passion and flesh. Spector offered the orgy in the mirrored room, Cohen moved his body against the sharpened metal spoon. I don't believe their insanity comes from either going home with their hard-ons, particularly in Cohen's case, but rather born of characters who distrust one another. This concludes with Spector occupying and defending the studio as he completed what he no doubt saw, disrespectfully, as his album. Cohen was not even allowed to complete proper takes of his vocals. The Columbia Records family, too, gave up the baby Cohen to a new record label, Warner Brothers, to release the record.
My favourite creations often come from artists lost in a desert; one look at the video for Memories and you will see another example testifying - this record has captured a cocained and sunglassed man who has eaten the map and is far from home.
Indulgences inevitably sink the ship, as Mr. Young would express effectively, 'every junky's like a setting sun' and although the consumption may not be in the main part literal, this records burns out from exhaustion in a song over nine-minutes in length, selfishly unburdening despair in the lyrics. Death by the sword.
Yet the fight in the dog shows Cohen's continued move from the path of solipsistic study, often charting depression, to the more dramatic and clear arguments between love and war, the sun and moon. This appeals to the chemical imbalances in myself I am thankful for. Numbness you will not feel here. I know of no-one who is indifferent to this record. Gentlemen? I've loved it in these bright December days.