Leonard Cohen
Death of a Ladies' Man



by thehonorablesgtpepsi USER (4 Reviews)
February 19th, 2019 | 4 replies

Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: [i]An absurd collaboration, and a jarring change of direction; but not without moments of great beauty from both artists.[/i]

It goes without saying that Death of a Ladies’ Man is a strange album. Inherently the pairing of the soft-singing, minimalistic poet, with the indulgent and notably overbearing producer would make for a bizarre outing. With Cohen’s usual folk style being replaced entirely by Spector’s flamboyant orchestral production, ranging from doo-wop to rockabilly. As can be expected from such a drastic creative turn; the reception for this album on its release was not warm. Contemporary reviewers and Cohen fans were confused at the production and collaboration choice, and were largely derisive. Subsequently neither artist collaborated again, making this album perhaps Cohen’s most unique, and polarizing.

Time has warmed the reception towards the album, as it so often does. It still remains however, a highly overlooked album; filled with haunting lyricism and arrangements.

Coming from the then 43 year old Cohen, it is often viewed as a ‘mid-life-crisis’ album, and it explores a range of topics; such as love, inadequacy, and infidelity. A general theme of melancholy not uncommon for Cohen, is shown throughout; and there is a Death of Cohen’s persona as a Ladies’ man. Love is the key subject throughout the album; whether it’s out of the narrator’s control in ’Paper Thin Hotel’, or something that inevitably fails leaving both parties unfulfilled on ’Death of a Ladies man’. Cohen explores Love from different perspectives, and often describes it with an air of dissatisfaction and regret. Sex is to be expected in discussing a Ladies’ man; and it is a topic explored on most of the songs. Whether it’s sexual inadequacy on ’Iodine’, or the emptiness in the act itself without love on ’Don’t Go Home With your Hard On’ and the title track, or infidelity on ’Fingerprints’.

While the album is lyrically consistent, Spector’s nostalgic arrangements bring a musical consistency that is strong for most of the album. Many of the arrangements nod to the music of Cohen’s youth; such as the song ’Memories’. While the song’s lyrics explore the hormonal lust of the narrator’s teenage days, the strong is strengthened by Spector’s chamber pop production hearkening to the pop of the late 50’s and early 60’s. ’Memories’ being the standout example of this; the doo-wop and chamber pop style is consistent throughout most of the album. Apart from the rockabilly-esque ’Fingerprints’, a song that is reminiscent to some of Spector’s early 70’s productions with John Lennon and George Harrison; and the pounding ’Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On’, the production is usually consistent.

That being said, it is definitely not an album for everyone. It is a jarringly different album to anything else Cohen ever did; and the layered and sometimes crowded production choices are neither artists’ best. Death of a Ladies Man is a truly bizarre album, but it is not without some moments of great lyrical and musical beauty.

Standout tracks:
True Love Leaves No Traces
Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On

user ratings (78)

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 19th 2019


Album Rating: 2.0

Awful album

Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2019


Album Rating: 3.5

Well-written review, great job. I think I remember reading or hearing Cohen call the album "grotesque", and I think that's perfect -- in spite of some beautiful words from Cohen, and some beautiful orchestration from Spector, the album sounds like some botched operation. I love it.

Some nitpicks: IMO, your formatting is a tad distracting, the emboldening of Love, Sex and Infidelity feel unnecessary (their capitalisation emphasise them enough); and also you overuse the semicolon, which should be spared (again, feel free to disagree) for longer, more complex sentences (and lists), or for the separation of dependent/independent clauses.

Digging: Lil Tracy - Anarchy

February 19th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

@BlushfulHippocrene Thanks so much for the feedback! I'll be sure to keep it in mind in the future.

Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2019


Album Rating: 3.5

No problem, hope to see you pumping out some more reviews. Do you have a favourite Cohen?

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