Death of a Ladies' Man - 1977
Toward the end of the 1970s, the careers of Leonard Cohen and Phil Spector were headed in opposite trajectories. Cohen rode high on a five album creative streak that had begun with his debut LP nine years previous, and Spector was spiraling down a well of drink, drugs, bizarre behavior and a string of albums that, while brilliant, were so polarizing that labels often had to be sweet talked into putting them out. Naturally, their great summit of 1977 was one that continues to divide, challenge and amaze. But as Spector put it, midway through their three-week songwriting binge that resulted in 15 new tracks, there's no denying that this is some "great fucking music." Discussing Cohen's contribution here is almost pointless, since the man's ability to craft a lyric and turn a phrase is sickeningly consistent - and aside from Spector's obvious influence on stripping a few layers of subtlety here and there and adding a touch of tasteful schmaltz to the choruses, Death of a Ladies' Man only continues the hot streak. It shouldn't be a surprise then, that the real magic of this record lies in Spector's typically over the top production. If his records of the classic era were Wall of Sound, the noise he creates here pours in through tunnels and waves, with his wrecking crew of the mid 60s reprising their role with some added syrupy 70s grandeur and a layer of echo so thick that it practically becomes an instrument in itself. It's worth noting that Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg drop by to lend their voices to the raucous "Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On" - a raveup that nearly disrupts the flow, but as a testament to the strength of this record, hardly creates a ripple. Unquestionably weird, but bruised and lovely all the same, this LP must be heard to be believed.