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Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

4.7 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 10, 1991
$31.66 $1.33

Editorial Reviews

Since Ella Fitzgerald never produced a songbook of Leonard Cohen songs, Jennifer Warnes's plush 1986 tribute is the next best thing. The sleekly seductive "First We Take Manhattan" is gilded by the guitars of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robben Ford. Warnes doesn't add much to an evergreen like "Bird on a Wire," but she lays claim to the noirish title song with a confidential vocal that complements the chamber-pop arrangement. "Song of Bernadette" is a ripened gem, and the selection where Warnes lets down her refined vocal technique to reveal deep emotions. More often, Warnes is as professionally accomplished on this well-chosen set as her band of studio pros. --John Milward

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. First We Take Manhattan
  2. Bird On A Wire
  3. Famous Blue Raincoat
  4. Joan Of Arc
  5. Ain't No Cure For Love
  6. Coming Back To You
  7. Song Of Bernadette
  8. A Singer Must Die
  9. Came So Far For Beauty

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 10, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Private Music
  • ASIN: B0000000KO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,776 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This landmark 20-year-old collaboration between songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen and singer Jennifer Warnes is in my opinion the most successful album for either artist, both artistically and commercially. Warnes' pitch perfect, emotionally charged voice teases out every last nuance and dimension of Cohen's inspired lyrical and musical compositions. Even on Cohen's most highly charged songs, one is able to fully appreciate the sweet timbre of Warnes' voice, but at the same time the sensuality and beauty of her voice never obscures the sharp edged, painfully romantic, tragic, fatalistic themes that have marked Cohen's finest and most characteristic compositions, many of which are represented on this album.

Compared with the original CD release, the sound on this remastered version is better in almost every respect, with the possible exception of the first song "First We Take Manhattan," in which a slight, digital-sounding sibilance has been added to Warnes voice. The other cuts are just great, with the digital remastering adding a more authoritative bass note and greater ambience and spaciousness to the soundstage. .

If the overall improved sound isn't enough, this remastered album offers four additional performances of Cohen compositions that are not from the original studio album sessions, including a Warnes-only live version of Joan of Arc, which is riveting even though it doesn't offer the magical duet with Cohen featured on the original studio album. Each of the four additional cuts would have been worthy of inclusion on the original release of Famous Blue Raincoat, which is high praise indeed.
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Format: Audio CD
Jennifer Warnes is a master of nuance and inflection. No one weds a sound to a lyric (or a lyric to a sound) better than she does. More importantly, her content has always been rich in substance and inspiring in tone. She can locate the silver linings in sadness, and remind us that we all are capable of transcending our setbacks and healing our wounds. These are among the reasons why I have been so dedicated to her music for more than thirty years, and why Leonard Cohen himself has given her his blessings repeatedly and many times over. As I would expect from the gifted singer Warnes, the familiar tunes on the 20th anniversary edition of Famous Blue Raincoat still resonate with elegance and warmth, and, technically, they sound better than ever. In the new songs, Warnes takes us to some exciting new places that will delight her fans and win her new ones. "If It Be Your Will" is an entrancing journey into poetic tenderness, while "Ballad of the Runaway Horse" is a masterful narrative that Warnes meticulously articulates with wonderfully complex rhythms, accompanied by an array of subtle sound effects that are beautifully suited to the story. And for pure soothing comfort, Warnes gifts us a sensuous lullaby for adults with "Night Comes On." A final treat is a recording of a live performance of "Joan of Arc." Accompanied by an orchestra and chorus, Warnes gives a spellbinding performance that shines with honest spontaneity and grace.

David S. Rubin
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This original album was released at a time when Cohen was almost forgotten, about seven years before tribute albums like the breathtaking I'm Your Fan and the rather tepid Tower of Song would spur renewed interest in his work. Warnes' versions are always graceful and moving. She understands Cohen's music well, having done backing vocals on albums like Various Positions so she interprets his songs with loving dedication.

My favorites include Aint No Cure For Love from Cohen's I'm Your Man, Coming Back To You and Night Comes On from Various Positions, Came So Far For Beauty and Ballad Of The Runaway Horse from Recent Songs and of course the formidable Joan Of Arc where Cohen himself sings some of the verses. The title track stands out with its smoky sax and desolate ambience whilst the live version of Joan Of Arc really fires on all fours.

Warnes' voice is the perfect vehicle for Cohen's poetic lyrics of romantic longing and resigned despair. The new tracks are superb. She slightly adapted the lyric of Night Comes On to a female perspective, and Ballad Of The Runaway Horse becomes a long excursion with a complex arrangement and a display of great virtuosity in the instrumentation which includes viola and cello.
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Format: Audio CD
Jennifer Warnes is a singer's singer, and Leonard Cohen is a songwriter's songwriter. They are each at the front of their game...and are brilliant in unique, almost tangible ways. I am not certain whose idea this CD was, but what a wondrous pairing! Warnes adds new levels to each of the eight excellent Cohen songs she interprets here...and does a remarkable job on her songwriting collaboration with Cohen, "Song of Bernadette." Americans barely noticed this superb collection; it was overshadowed by Warnes' #1 song "The Time Of My Life" of the same year. However, I don't believe anyone can say he or she has heard Jennifer Warnes without hearing this recording first! Warnes' immaculate interepretation of "Famous Blue Raincoat" blows Tori Amos' well-known version out of the water! Just as exquisite are "Bird On A Wire," "First We Take Manhattan" and "Ain't No Cure For Love." Warnes and her co-producer, C. Roscoe Beck, handpicked a batch of amazing musicians for this 1987 CD, including a Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar performance that is mind-blowing! Snatch this CD up and listen to it like there is no's brilliant!
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