Songs of Love And Hate, Death of A Ladies Man, The Wall of Sound

Songs of Love and Hate (1971) is probably my second favorite Leonard Cohen album after his debut The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967); although to be honest, they’re nearly tied.

Track 1 from Songs of Love And Hate, ‘Avalanche’, is incredible.. perfect, creepy, and notoriously hard to play (which seems, er- sounds true enough).


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds did a cover of ‘Avalanche’ on their 1984 debut album From Her to Eternity.

An interesting record is Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man, which Phil Spector produced using mainly his Wall of Sound* technique (very different than previous Leonard Cohen recordings).

Which brings me to the:

*Wall of Sound: music production technique for pop and rock music recordings developed by record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios during the 1960s (a dense, layered, and reverberant sound that reproduced well on AM radio and jukeboxes popular in the era).

He created this sound by having a number of electric and acoustic guitarists perform the same parts in unison, adding musical arrangements for large groups of musicians up to the size of orchestras, and then recording the sound using an echo chamber. [1]

Ex: From Leonard’s Death Of A Ladies’ Man:


Pretty easy to hear it, right?

Some more notable examples: Spector produced The Beatles’ Let it Be. (You can hear the difference in the the later, remastered Let it Be… Naked produced by McCartney, and therefore without Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’). Brian Wilson used a similar technique on Smile & Pet Sounds, etc.

The obvious usage is found in many of Spector’s girl group songs..

And Then He Kissed Me [The Crystals]″


Currently, the wall of sound pretty heavily influences shoegaze and the like (a good example is My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 album Loveless).

I should point out – this ‘wall of sound’ is completely separate from the Greatful Dead’s version of the term.

Well, goodnight- and speaking of Phil Spector, is this not the greatest picture ever?


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2 Responses to “Songs of Love And Hate, Death of A Ladies Man, The Wall of Sound”

  1. DrHGuy Says:

    I’m a Leonard Cohen fan and “Memories” is one of my favorite songs. I have 2 comments:

    1. It should be noted that the working relationship between Cohen and Spector was – well, rocky enough that, according to an article in the Telegraph, “Cohen would later recall how on one occasion in the studio Spector approached him with a bottle of Manischewitz (Jewish ceremonial wine) in one hand and a pistol in the other, placed his arm around Cohen’s shoulder, shoved the gun in his neck and said: ‘Leonard, I love you.’ Cohen, with admirable aplomb, moved the barrel away, saying: ‘I hope you do, Phil.’”

    2. Of the handful of video performances of “Memories” online, I’d recommend the 1979 German ZDF-TV Rock Pop Special version, featuring a young Leonard Cohen wearing a bomber jacket and his female vocalists, Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson, emulating the Vandellas, Pips, Miracles, Supremes, … and all the other backup singers who executed choreographed dance moves while singing every “shooby doop.” “shooby do ahh,” “shang-a-lang,” and “doo wop” in exactly the right place. That video and more than you knew you wanted to know about “Memories” can be found at my post, Two Leonard Cohen Memories

  2. Danz Says:

    @DrHGuy Very cool post. Quite frightening- that bit about Spector, Cohen and the pistol. Memories is indeed a good one, think more people should appreciate Death of a Ladies Man.

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