Normally, I have a Record of the Month post. But I have 400+ CDs and roughly 27 blog posts per month. I gotta fill this space with something! So now, in addition to the RotM, you get a RotM Classic. Most likely a disk that is at least 5 years old. I buy enough music that is 'new' to continue my original subject of RotM.
RJ had posted something a while back and briefly mentioned listening to Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat. Though I don’t remember exactly what his post was about, the disk mention itself was completely tertiary to the actual post.
But what it did was plant in the back of my mind how that should be, at some point, one of my Record of the Month posts. Now it is my first “classic” post.
Warnes released the disk back in 1986. I remember doing my weekly sift through bins at Schoolkid’s Records on N. High St when the clerks put it on. I could sort of place the voice, but in reality the only thing I knew her from was a few movie soundtrack songs and her other hit “Right Time of the Night”.
None of those things ever would have made me buy one of her disks. But I immediately went up and asked about this one. They told me and pointed me to the one and only copy they had in stock – let’s face it, this was never going to be a big seller.
Unofficially titles: Jenny Sings Lenny, Warnes covers nine songs from Leonard Cohen. I know this always ticks people off, but I don’t like Cohen as a singer. As a writer, he is great – but I don’t see him being the consummate artist that so many do.
I would say the material suits Warnes to a T, but I don’t really know most of her repertoire to confirm that. She certainly embraces it and runs with the style and does quite well at it. The recording itself is clear and crisp – as for a long time I had read in many audio magazines that store would use her “Bird on a Wire” to demonstrate their sound systems.
I’d like to point out the highlights of the disk, but I’m not sure there is a bad song on the disk. I am a huge fan of “First We Take Manhattan”, “Song of Bernadette” and the title track, but in actuality, the entire disk is extremely strong. She wisely opted not to record the oft covered “Suzanne”. I’m not even sure “Hallelujah” was around when this was recorded, but it’s probably a good thing that wasn’t touched either. Jeff Buckley did one of the better versions of that that exist.
For a compact disk that was recorded and released so soon after the medium came into the market, it is and was technically well done when many of those recordings are now in desperate need of remastering.
There is a 20th anniversary edition that was release in 2007 – with an extra track or two, but I haven’t gotten it. At least yet.
This is one disk I would hardly recommend. It's not standard fare, but I think it is something I think most would enjoy.
Nina Simone's "Suzanne" reigns supreme. She works it like a full-time job, I'm telling you-- her phrasing is incredible.
kd lang does a nice "Hallelujah."
Have you given a listen to the new Nick Cave cd? His voice is reminiscent of Cohen's, but it works better.
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