My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Songs of Love and Hate was mostly recorded at the end of September 1970 in Nashville and released in March of 1971. The album consists of many songs Cohen had written in the mid to late sixties.
What I think:
I can certainly say that this album is one that doesn’t work very well on a listen once and review it level. It starts with “Avalanche” which is very bleak and unemotional. It had me thinking, “I don’t know how much Leonard Cohen I need in my life”, it just sounded like what I would expect an average Cohen song to sound like. Along the way though, unexpected happened. Each song started growing in intensity and the album built to an emotional height, which became very intense and lovely.
The one mistake to me in this build is “Sing Another Song, Boys” which was is a live recording that is the second to last track on the album. It’s a great song, but the sound is so different that it destroys the build and starts it over for “Joan of Arc”, which is the last song on the album. Or maybe that is intentional as the first track mentions Joan of Arc and makes this a song cycle. In any event, this is an album to study and I have questions I can’t answer with one listen.
My favorite track on the album is by far “Diamonds in the Mine”, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Cohen sing something is such a vicious and raw way. It’s pretty amazing. “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Joan of Arc” are also stellar recordings.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? A couple tracks in I was thinking of ways to rip this album apart, a couple of songs later I was thinking about future listens and thematic elements. I think that is genius in action.
Rating (Out of 5): 4.5
Songs of Love and Hate Amazon Review (Out of 5): 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (180/239)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 80%