Picks and Pans Review: Cohen Live

updated 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Leonard Cohen

This is a tough sell. What's the marketing slogan: "Every number sounds like a swan song"? Fact is that Cohen delivers his hits with such overwhelming weariness that he seems destined to expire with the next note. His toneless, sludgy voice, backed by an equally limp band, makes Tom Waits sound like Pavarotti.

Since the 13 tracks here were culled from more than 200 shows during the Canadian songwriter's tours in 1988 and 1993, presumably he considers these renditions to be particularly flattering. Scary thought. The only songs that drag themselves above the general lethargy are the ones with extraneous foreign accents: the stiff tango of "Everybody Knows" and the Piafian boîte ballad "Dance Me to the End of Love." Otherwise this glum, melancholy collection should be dispensed only with large doses of Prozac. (Columbia)

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