Sunday, December 28, 2014

Delmore Brothers: Blues Stay Away From Me

The Delmore Brothers were one of the most important and influential acts from the early days of country music. The duo consisted of the brothers, Alton and Rabon Delmore, a pair of guitarist/vocalists who helped to pioneer the country music genre with their melding of gospel music, folk, and the blues. The brothers were born into poverty in Elkmont, Alabama.

The Delmore Brothers made their first recordings for Columbia Records, in 1931, and produced “I’ve Got the Kansas City Blues” and “Alabama Lullaby.” The duo continued to record until 1952, when Rabon Delmore died of cancer.

During their run, the Delmore Brothers recorded some of the all-time classics of country music including, “Blow Yo’ Whistle, Freight Train,” “When It’s Time for the Whippoorwill to Sing,” “Freight Train Boogie,” and “Blues Stay Away from Me.” The latter tune would be covered by later rockabilly performers Gene Vincent and Johnny Burnette, while “Freight Train Boogie” has been called the first rock and roll recording by some pundits.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Del Shannon: Runaway

Del Shannon was one of the bright lights in the somewhat barren pop musical landscape of the early Sixties that stood in the middle of the creation of rock and roll and the arrival of the Beatles. Shannon was one of the only true rockers in the early Sixties who was singing, playing guitar, and writing his own material.

Shannon was born Charles Weedon Westover in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1937. After a stint in the US Army in Germany, Shannon returned home to Michigan where he formed a band called “The Midnight Ramblers.” By 1961, he was on his own with a recording contract with Big Top Records and a No. 1 hit with the classic single, “Runaway,” one of the greatest rock songs of the decade. The song was highlighted by Shannon’s famous falsetto singing and a legendary solo on the musitron, a high-pitched organ, by Max Crook.

Shannon would score several more big hits during the Sixties with the songs, “Little Town Flirt, “ “Hats Off to Larry,” and a cover version of The Beatles’ “From Me to You” which was a hit for Shannon in America in 1963, a full 6 month before the Beatles had an American hit record.

Following the death of Roy Orbison in 1988, it was rumoured that The Traveling Willburys were considering Shannon, who had fallen on hard times, as a replacement. However, no such undertaking happened, and Shannon died of a self-inflicted rifle wound in early 1990.

The following Del Shannon albums are recommended as essential listening: “Runaway with Del Shannon” (1963), “Little Town Flirt” (1964), and “The Further Adventures of Charles Westover" (1968).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dion and the Belmonts: Legendary Doo Wop

Dion and the Belmonts, from New York City, was one of the most successful doo-wop groups that emerged during the late Fifties. Their lead singer, Dion DiMucci, was the soulful vocal centerpiece of the band. The band enjoyed a string of hits in the early sixties with songs such as “Lonely Teenager,” “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer,” “Ruby Baby,” and “Lovers Who Wander.”

When the Belmonts disbanded in the early Sixties, their leader, Di Mucci, would reemerge as “Dion” and record an excellent self-titled solo album in 1968 which would feature his huge solo hit, “Abraham, Martin and John.” The album was a departure from the doo-wop music of the earlier period.

Dimucci’s life was spared when he opted to not board the ill-fated flight in Clear Lake, Iowa, that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper following a concert in February, 1959.

Dion Dimucci’s best albums with and without the Belmonts include “Alone with Dion” (1961), “Runaround Sue” (1961), and “Dion” (1968). The best Dion and the Belmonts compilation is likely, “Dion & the Belmonts-20 Greatest Hits” (1985).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kid Ory: Tailgate Trombone

Kid Ory, born in La Place, Louisiana, in 1886, was the king of the trombone in the early years of jazz music in New Orleans. He started out played banjo, but later switched to trombone. Ory would become known for his “tailgate” style that had the trombone playing rhythmic lines underneath the free soloing of clarinets and cornets. From 1912 to 1919, Ory led an extremely popular band in New Orleans which had as members, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet and Jimmie Noone.

Ory moved to California in 1919, and in 1922, King Ory’s Creole Orchestra became the first African-American jazz band to make a recording when they recorded the songs “Ory’s Creole Trombone” and “Society Blues.” In 1925, Ory moved to Chicago, joining the migration of New Orleans jazz musicians who were seeking fame and fortune in the Windy City. In Chicago, Ory played with King Oliver’s Creole Jazz band, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and Hot Seven and later with Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers.

During the Depression, Ory found himself out of work along with many of his colleagues. For several years he ran a chicken ranch with his brother and returned to music when the New Orleans style jazz revival happened in the Forties. He reformed the Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band in 1943, and Ory was able to play jazz until he retired in 1966, and he died at a ripe old age in 1973.

The compilation albums, “Ory’s Creole Trombone: Greatest Recordings 1922-1944” (1995) and “The Chronological Classics: Kid Ory 1922-1945” (1999) are among the best available compilations of his music.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

King Crimson: The Birth of Progressive Rock

One of the pioneering bands of progressive-rock, King Crimson came together in 1968, with guitarist Robert Fripp, drummer Michael Giles, saxophone/flute player, Ian McDonald, lyricist Peter Sinfield and bassist Greg Lake. The band chose the name, “King Crimson,” and headed to the studio in 1969, where they recorded one of the greatest albums in rock history, “In the Court of the Crimson King.” The album was an artistic set of songs ranging from the hard rock of “21st Century Schizoid Man” to the beautiful and dreamy ballad, “I Talk to the Wind.” The album is superbly written, arranged, and produced and contains unforgettable songs.

Peter Giles replaced Lake on bass and Ian McDonald departed, and with their new lineup King Crimson recorded “In the Wake of Poseidon” (1970) which was a lesser version of the previous record. The jazzy, “Lizard” (1970) and “Islands” (1971) would follow, but none of these albums came anywhere close to matching the brilliance of the debut.

Robert Fripp put together a new lineup featuring bassist/vocalist John Wetton, drummer Bill Bruford, violinist David Cross, percussionist Jamie Muir and lyricist Richard Palmer-James. This lineup was a harder rocking unit and recorded “Larks Tongues in Aspic” (1971) and “Starless and Black Bible” (1973), the best records the band had made since their brilliant debut.

Fripp brought back Ian McDonald for “Red” (1974), one of the band’s most-acclaimed releases. Despite almost constant lineup changes, King Crimson has forged ahead with guitarist Robert Fripp as the constant thread holding them together.
The best releases of this band’s most recent work included the following: “USA” (1975), “Discipline” (1981), “The Great Deceiver: Live 1973-1974” (1992), “Thrak” (1996), “The Night Watch” (1997), and “Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal 1984” (1998).

Friday, December 19, 2014

King Oliver: The First True King of the Cornet

Joe “King” Oliver is among the seminal figures in the history of jazz music. Oliver was an influential musician in the early days of jazz whose hot cornet playing influenced all those who followed in his footsteps including Louis Amstrong, Oliver’s student, charge and employee. It was Oliver who convinced Armstrong to leave New Orleans for Chicago, and play second cornet in Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band took the first steps on a journey that would see Armstrong revolutionize jazz and American popular music.

Oliver was born in New Orleans in 1885 and was blinded in one eye as a child. He often played cornet while wearing a derby hat in such a way as to obscure his bad eye. Oliver was one of the first cornetists to use a mute to alter the sound of his cornet. Using a mute, he was able to produce a wide variety of sounds including the whinnying of a horse.

Oliver started his professional career in New Orleans around 1908. He was a member of several marching bands, and he worked at various times in Kid Ory’s band. Ory began referring to him as “King” Oliver around 1917.

In 1919, Oliver moved to Chicago with Kid Ory and played in Bill Johnson’s band at the Dreamland Ballroom. Oliver formed “King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band” in 1922, and landed a residency at Chicago’s Lincoln Gardens. His new band featured some of the best jazz musicians of the time including clarinetist Johnny Dodds, trombonist Honore Dutrey, pianist Lil Hardin, drummer Baby Dodds, and Louis Armstrong on second cornet.

King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band 1923 recording sessions for the Gennet label produced some of the best-ever recordings of jazz with “Chimes Blues,” “Just Gone,” “Dippermouth Blues,” and “Snake Rag.” These recordings revealed the brilliant dual cornet playing of Armstrong and Oliver, and introduced Armstrong’s virtuosity to the world. Armstrong soon headed to New York City to join Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and the Creole Jazz Band would cease to be in 1924.

Oliver took over Dave Peyton’s band in 1925, renamed it the “Dixie Syncopators,”and moved the band to New York in 1927. Once in New York, Oliver passed up a chance to have the Dixie Syncopators become the house band at the Cotton Club. Duke Ellington took the job and went on to fame and riches. In 1929, Luis Russell took over the Dixie Syncopaters and changed their name to “Luis Russell and his Orchestra.”

Oliver recorded until 1931, but his New Orleans hot jazz style was falling out of fashion. Oliver finally settled down in Georgia, where he worked as a poolroom janitor until his death in 1938.

Oliver’s classic sides are available on the following compilations: “King Oliver’s Jazz Band 1923” (1975), “King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set” (1997), and the series, “The Chronological Classics: King Oliver” (1991).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Larry Williams :Bad Boy

Larry Williams is one of the almost forgotten fathers of rock and roll. Williams, a pianist, had a number of huge hits during the mid-Fifties as rock and roll was beginning to dominate American popular music. Several of Williams’ songs would be recorded by more famous bands and singers, and become forever associated with them. The Beatles recorded Williams’ songs, “Slow Down,” “Bad Boy,” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” during the earliest phase of their recording career.

Williams was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1935. He made his recording debut in 1957 for Specialty Records with a ballad, “Just Because.” Williams’ forte, however, was up-tempo rockers, and he scored a hit later the same year with the rocker, “Bonie Maronie.” A slew of hits would soon follow including, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” Bad Boy,” and “Short Fat Fanny.”

Williams didn’t enjoy much success after 1957, and he fell back into the underworld life of drug-peddling that consumed much of his time prior to his music career. In the mid-Sixties, he made a comeback with an R&B band which included guitarist Johnny Guitar Watson, and he produced a couple of albums for his friend, Little Richard.

This success would not last as his drug addiction kept dragging him down. In 1977, he pulled a gun on Little Richard and threatened to kill him over a drug debt. Shortly thereafter, Williams was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head, in his Los Angeles home. His death was officially deemed a suicide. He was 44-years-old at the time of his demise.

Williams’ best recordings are found on the albums, “Here’s Larry Williams” (1959), “The Larry Williams Show (ft. Johnny Guitar Watson)” (1965), and “The Best of Larry Williams” (1988).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Rolling Stones: Midnight Ramblers

The Rolling Stones are, save the Beatles, the most famous rock band of all time. The Stones emerged from London around the same time that the Beatles were breaking out from their hometown, Liverpool. While the Beatles long ago parted, The Rolling Stones are still a functioning rock band, although with some members now in their seventies, the band is now only occasionally productive.

The Stones current lineup consists of Mick Jagger on lead vocals; Keith Richards on guitar; Charlie Watts on drums; and Ron Wood on guitar. All the current members except Wood have been with the band from the beginning, and the band has seen limited personnel changes despite its long run of 50 years.

The Stones started out in the early Sixties as one of the finest white blues bands of the day, led at that time, by the late blues guitarist, Brian Jones. In the band’s earliest incarnation, they were a blues and R&B band, and Jones was the driving force and resident blues expert. The band’s name came from the Muddy Waters song, “Rollin’ Stone.” The band played their first gig at London’s Marquee Club before landing a regular gig at the Crawdaddy Club. Former Beatles publicist, Andrew Loog Oldham became the Stones manager around this time.

Oldham’s first act was to secure a lucrative recording deal for his new band. Decca Records, which was still reeling from their failure to sign the Beatles, offered Oldham a sweet deal for the Stones. Oldham, then began to publicize the Stones as the anti-Beatles, a band of louts who were the polar opposite of the clean and decent Beatles. In spring 1963, Decca released the first Stones’ single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s, “Come On.”

The Stones recorded their debut album, “The Rolling Stones,” in 1964. The album only contained one song written by Jagger and Richards, with the rest of the songs being blues cover songs. Oldham encouraged Jagger and Richards to work on their songwriting, as he believed that the band would have limited appeal if it continued to just perform songs by “middle-aged blacks.” Two more albums relying heavily on covers of R&B and blues, “The Rolling Stones Number 2” and “The Rolling Stones Now,” were released in 1965. The songwriting team of Jagger and Richards were beginning to produce results with their first self-written hit, “Heart of Stone,” appearing in 1964.

The Stones first album with a significant amount of original material, “Out of Our Heads,” was released in 1965. This album contained the Stones first big international hit single, “Satisfaction,” and the single turned the band into bona-fide pop stars. The album contained several other excellent tracks such as, “Play with Fire” and “The Last Time.”

The Stones would continue to improve on their next release, “Aftermath” (1966), an album of mostly original songs that includes the early classic songs, “Mother’s Little Helper,” “Lady Jane,” and “Under My Thumb.” The latter track riled feminists and helped to solidify the band’s “bad boy” image.

In early 1967, the band’s next album, “Between the Buttons,” was released. This album saw the band moving away from the blues and R&B they had long focused on, and further into the realm of rock and the psychedelia that was so pervasive at the time. Later in 1967, the band would dive headlong into psychedelia with “Their Satanic Majesties Request,” a full-blown psychedelic freak out which was panned by many critics, but is still an interesting offering with the excellent tracks, “She’s A Rainbow” and “2000 Light Years from Home.”

Between 1968 and 1972, the band would enjoy a golden period that would see the band record an outstanding string of albums which are all now considered among the very best albums of 20th century popular music.

The first, “Beggar’s Banquet,” appeared in 1968, and featured some of the best rock and blues tracks ever recorded by a rock band. “Sympathy for the Devil” is the most famous track on the album, followed closely by ”Street Fighting Man.” The blues chops of the band, especially in the case of Brian Jones, are on full display on tracks such as “No Expectations” which features fine slide blues guitar by Jones. “Prodigal Son” is a fine country blues cover. Brian Jones would die tragically from drowning in his swimming pool shortly after the release of the album.

In 1969, “Let it Bleed” appeared, and like its predecessor, it contained excellent tracks of rock and blues. Several of the band’s most famous songs are found here such as, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Gimme Shelter,” and the title track. The cover of Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” is one of the highlights of the band’s recording career.

After a two-year hiatus from the studio, during which time the excellent live album, “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” (1970) appeared, another classic album, “Sticky Fingers” (1971), was released. The album was the hardest rocking Stones album yet, and featured new guitarist, Mick Taylor, who was brought in to replace the deceased Brian Jones. Taylor’s presence on the album gave the band a fuller rock sound that was exploited on the numbers, “Bitch,” “Can’t You Hear Me knocking,” and “Brown Sugar.” A fine country-rock moment can be heard with “Wild Horses,” a song that Keith Richards wrote with Gram Parsons of the Flying Burrito Brothers.

In 1972, the comprehensive and outstanding double album, “Exile on Main Street,” was released, and it is considered by many as the band’s definitive work. A slew of blues, R&B, and even gospel tunes populate the album along side rock songs such as the hits, “Happy” and “Tumbling Dice.” 

The Stones’ work started to slide in the mid-Seventies, with the band recording several albums which were several notches below the superb work of the past. Keith Richard’s drug use would become an issue, especially following his arrest at a Toronto hotel. It was not until 1978 that the band would finally make an album worthy of their reputation. That album was “Some Girls” (1978), featuring the stellar tracks, “Shattered” and “Beast of Burdon.”

The band’s work from the Eighties to present has been spotty, but there have always been fine moments such as the album releases, “Tattoo You” (1981), “Stripped” (1995), “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus” (1996), and “Shine a Light” (2008).

The band is still a touring unit and they have ventured into new territory, playing concerts in Shanghai, China, in 2009.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Kinks: Well-Respected Men

The Kinks were one of the best and most popular British rock bands of the Sixties and early Seventies. The band was part of the British Invasion that started with the Beatles’ success in America in the early Sixties. Dave Davies famous guitar riff from the song, “You Really Got Me,” has been cited as a turning point in rock that inspired hard rock/ heavy metal.

Ray Davies, the creative force behind The Kinks, wrote the most literate and narrative songs in rock music, and infused his songwriting with a particularly nostalgic and British bent as albums such as “The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society” amply demonstrate.

The Kinks formed in 1963, in London. The band has changed personnel several times, but singer Ray Davies, his younger brother, lead guitarist Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory have always been the heart of the band. Peter Quaife, the original bassist for the band, died of kidney failure in 2010.

The Kinks recorded a number of excellent albums during their earliest incarnation including the aforementioned, “The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society” (1968) which is usually cited as the band’s masterpiece. “Face to Face” (1966), “Something Else by the Kinks” (1967), “Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire” (1969), and “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround (Part One)” (1970), were also stellar works which featured some of the most satirical and acute commentary on modern, especially British, society.

In addition to “You Really Got Me,” The Kinks enjoyed several hit singles in their early days such as “A Well Respected Man,” “Victoria,” “Waterloo Sunset,” “All Day and All of the Night,” “Tired of Waiting for You,” and “Sunny Afternoon.”

Ray Davies has spent the last several years touring as a solo act, but another Kinks reunion is always possible in the future.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd was a progressive rock band that soared to heights of popularity in the Seventies and Eighties unseen by any other progressive rock band. Formed in 1965, in London, England by Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason, Pink Floyd started their career playing psychedelic music which was the vogue of the day.

In 1966, the band scored a recording deal with EMI and recorded their brilliant debut, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” (1967). They also recorded an excellent psychedelic single, “See Emily Play.” By 1968, Syd Barrett’s drug use had begun to render him unreliable, and the band recruited a second guitarist, David Gilmour. Both Gilmour and Barrett appeared on “A Saucerful of Secrets” (1968), but the band decided to fire Barrett, and without him recorded, “Ummagumma” (1969). Pink Floyd followed it up with “Atom Heart Mother” (1970).
The album “Meddle” (1971) was something of a turning point as it was likely the best Pink Floyd album since the debut and saw the band firmly established in America. The album is a laid-back progressive rock album that features the sound that would become famous for their next album, the massively successful, “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973), one of the biggest-selling rock albums ever.

The album is undeniably a masterpiece, and it contains some of the band’s most famous songs, “Money,” “Comfortably Numb,” and “Us and Them.” Roger Waters would become the band’s leader in the wake of the album’s phenomenal success. In 1975, Pink Floyd recorded the fine album,”Wish You Were Here,” which was followed by another solid album, “Animals” (1977).

In 1979, “The Wall,” an album which tells the story of a rock star named Pink who slowly goes insane, was released. A film of the same name accompanied the album. The album proved to be another masterwork, and it was written largely by Waters. The album contained the classic tracks, “Another Brick in the Wall,” “Mother,” and “Young Lust.”

Original Pink Floyd member, Rick Wright, was ousted by Waters during the recording of the Wall, and Waters and Gilmour began to bicker. “The Final Cut” (1983) was another Waters-dominated effort and Waters quit the band in 1985, thinking that other members would follow.

David Gilmour decided to stay and keep the name, “Pink Floyd.” Waters and Gilmour fought over the ownership of the band’s name, and the courts awarded it to Gilmour. Gilmour recorded the Pink Floyd album, “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” (1987) with session musicians. In 1994, with Rick Wright back in the ranks, Pink Floyd recorded a new album, “The Division Bell,” before disbanding shortly thereafter.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

John Prine: Illegal Smile

John Prine was one of the best of the folk-flavoured singer/songwriters that emerged alongside Neil Young and others in the early Seventies. Prine, who is still active today, is one of the wittiest songwriters of the singer/songwriter clan. When he appeared on the scene in the early Seventies, he was designated by some writers as a “New Dylan,” an up and coming singer/songwriter with talent and integrity reminiscent of the young Dylan.

Prine was born in Maywood, Illinois, in 1946, and following a stint in the US Postal Service, became involved in the Chicago folk scene of the late Sixties. A chance meeting with pop singer Paul Anka led to a chance to record, and his brilliant debut album, “John Prine” was released in 1971. Prine's debut was a superb collection of topical songs that included, “Sam Stone,” a tale of a drug-addicted Vietnam veteran, “Hello in There,” a song about the neglect of the elderly, and “Paradise,” a plea for the conservation of nature.

Prine's sophomore effort, “Diamonds in the Rough” (1972) was another fine work with solid songs such as the title track and “They Ought to Name a Drink after You,” all delivered with spare accompaniment. “Sweet Revenge,” an album that rivals Prine's terrific debut album as his best release, followed in 1973. Sweet Revenge was another superb collection of folk and country-inflected songs, this time with the support of a larger studio band. Highlights from this one include, “Christmas in Prison,” “Please Don’t Bury Me,” “Dear Abby,” and “Mexican Home.”

Prine's next few albums saw him exploring a more rock-oriented sound fleshed out by a backing band that included electric guitar, bass, and heavy drums. The effect was partially-successful on solid releases such as “Common Sense” (1975) and “Pink Cadillac” (1979). “Bruised Orange,” an excellent release from 1978, was a return to his simpler folk sound.

The Eighties was a quiet period for Prine from a recording standpoint. He recorded a few studio albums, but nothing of note.

In 1991, however, Prine was back with a vengeance. With the help of fellow musicians and admirers such as Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Tom Petty, he recorded another classic, “The Missing Years,” a brilliant folk-rock album brimming with top notch songs such as “Picture Show,” “Great Rain,” “The Sins of Memphisto,” and the title track.

Despite being recently sidelined with throat cancer, Prine continues to tour and record often brilliant albums. His most recent classics are “In Spite of Ourselves” (1995) and “Fair and Square” (2006).

John Prine

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Heart Like a Wheel

Kate and Anna McGarrigle are sisters from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, who in 1975 formed a folk duo and went on to write and record some of the best contemporary folk music of the last 30 years. The musical McGarrigle family grew as Kate married folk singer, Loudon Wainwright and bore him musical children, singers Martha and Rufus Wainwright.

The McGarrigles appeared on the music scene in 1976 with the release of their classic debut album, “Kate and Anna McGarrigle,” a superb collection of songs ranging from folk and blues to gospel all sung with the McGarrigle sisters’ trademark tight harmonies. The album’s highlights are the songs “Mendocino” and “Heart like a Wheel,” with the latter tune becoming a hit for Linda Ronstadt. The song, “Go Leave” is for Kate’s husband Loudon Wainwright, with whom she had a famously difficult marriage.

The McGarrigle’s follow-up release, “Dancer with Bruised Knees” (1977), was another fine effort that like the debut album, included several songs sung in French.

The McGarrigles have continued to record fine albums, and the best of their more recent offerings are “French Record” (1981), “Love Over and Over” (1982), “Heartbeats Accelerating” (1990), and “Matapedia” (1996).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

Leonard Cohen, born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1936, is one of the most enduring of the folk music heroes that emerged during the Sixties. As a songwriter, he is only rivaled by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and few others in the folk/rock universe. Cohen is noted for his quirky takes on the traditional love song and his use of religious imagery to paint portraits of regret and heartbreak.

Cohen’s debut album was the stark, “Songs of Leonard Cohen” (1967), which features his spare guitar playing and solemn, almost spoken vocals. The album contains the superb songs, “Suzanne,” “Master Song,” “The Strange Song,” and “So Long, Marianne.” Cohen’s guitar and vocals are tastefully supported by the occasional restrained electric guitar, string, reed, horn or woodwind.

Cohen’s debut may well be his masterpiece, but several other contenders were yet to come, including, “Songs of Love and Hate” from 1971. This album is sonically quite similar to his debut and contains somewhat less familiar, although just as memorable songs such as, “Avalanche” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag.” In 1974, Cohen recorded the fine album, “New Skin for the Old Ceremony,” the first of his albums in several years to rival his earliest work. The music here is somewhat sunnier than that on his earlier classics with a somewhat countryish flavor.

Cohen has disappeared from the music scene for long periods during his career to pursue other artistic endeavours such as writing books or poetry, but he has always managed to return with his faculties intact. After a long hiatus, Cohen returned to music in 1988, and recorded another classic with the synth-pop album, “I’m Your Man,” featuring the classic songs, “First We Take Manhattan” and “Take This Waltz.”

Cohen is still active in music today, now well into his seventies.