I’m Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen is a tribute album to Leonard Cohen, released in 1991, produced by the French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles. The album features Cohen’s songs interpreted by some of the most respected rock acts of the time. Its name is a play on the title of Cohen’s album I’m Your Man.
For the album’s American release on Atlantic Records, R.E.M.’s rendition of “First We Take Manhattan” and House of Love’s “Who by Fire” (the lead tracks on each side of the vinyl and cassette versions) were swapped so that R.E.M., one of the most popular American rock bands of the era, led the album. In all other countries where the album was released, however, the R.E.M. track appears on Side Two. In the United Kingdom, the album was distributed by record label EastWest Records, in France by Sony Music.
The album includes two different covers of “Tower of Song”, one by Robert Forster and another by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The latter version is a radical deconstruction of the song, edited from an hour-long jam session held by the band.
“Who by Fire” – The House of Love
“Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” – Ian McCulloch
“I Can’t Forget” – Pixies
“Stories of the Street” – That Petrol Emotion
“Bird on the Wire” – The Lilac Time
“Suzanne” – Geoffrey Oryema
“So Long, Marianne” – James
“Avalanche IV” – Jean-Louis Murat
“Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On” – David McComb & Adam Peters
“Who by Fire” – The House of Love
“First We Take Manhattan” – R.E.M.
“Chelsea Hotel” – Lloyd Cole
“Tower of Song” – Robert Forster
“Take This Longing” – Peter Astor
“True Love Leaves No Traces” – Dead Famous People
“I’m Your Man” – Bill Pritchard
“A Singer Must Die” – The Fatima Mansions
“Tower of Song” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
“Hallelujah” – John Cale
Like most albums of this nature, the cover version can be a hit and miss although in this instance there’s far more of the former than the latter. In many cases, the singer or band actually make it sound as if the song is one of their own, perhaps as much because it is nigh on impossible to mimic Leonard Cohen without sounding faintly ridiculous.
In the spirit of recent postings from Dave Glickman, I’ve decided to offer up a taster 5-track EP from the album for you.
Track 1 is mid-era stadium rock James demonstrating that they still had the ability to surprise folk. The simple guitar ballad is given a big production treatment, led in particular by some sprightly trumpet playing from Andy Diagram while the bass of Jim Glennie and drums of David Paynton-Power make for a great listen..
Track 2 is courtesy of a collaboration between the late frontman/guitarist of The Triffids and an arranger who worked with, among others, Echo & The Bunnymen being responsible for much of the sound on Ocean Rain. Leonard Cohen is known to have said that he loves this version and considers it a big improvement on his own recording which can be found on the Phil Spector-produced Death Of A Ladies’ Man. Incidentally, the guitarist on this recording is none other than Will Sergeant….while Martin P Casey of The Bad Seeds and Grinderman contributes on bass
Track 1 is rather lovely and shows a lesser known ballad-side to The House Of Love with Guy Chadwick in fine voice.
Track 2 is kind of Lloyd Cole by numbers but quite frankly that’s good enough for me on most occasions.
Track 3 is a rendition of a song which is now very well-known thanks to it being taken on for rendition by some non-entity or other in TV ‘talent’ shows but back in 1991 it was still a bit of a secret. John Cale delivers a fragile but outstanding take with just himself on vocals and piano. It’s as live…