Sunday 19 July 2015

#41 LEONARD COHEN - Live at the BBC (1968) (Flac)

Leonard Cohen's song 'Nevermind' from his 2014 album 'Old Ideas' is currently being used as the theme tune for the television series 'True Detective' If you've watched the series you will know what an apt choice the song is. Now in his eighties, still relevant and as popular as ever. For this post we move backwards in time to an earlier younger Cohen, although at 33 he was a good six to seven years older than many of his musical peers.

LEONARD COHEN - BBC Broadcasts 1968 [JWB Remaster]
Live on BBC TV, excellent mono recording.


Canadian Leonard Cohen, with his brooding monotone voice, was a talented poet who combined intense songs with truth and humour. These well-preserved sessions at the BBC in 1968 offer a fly-on-the-wall experience to witness a young Cohen singing practically his entire debut album. The voice is fresh and deep, pushing the songs outside the Tin Pan Alley perimeter, and delving into poetry with a richness of words and subject. Today, they still have that raw appeal of a young artist at the peak of his powers.Suzanne, So Long Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye are beautiful love songs that catch your attention with the lyrics and emotions contained within them.

Added to this 1968 session is a second disc that includes the five songs from the Top Gear radio show session, hosted by John Peel, four in such quality that only an official release will better (if the Beeb still has the session in their archive). Two tracks follow from the BBC TV show 'Once More With Felix'. The penultimate song Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye is notable with Leonard being joined on a duet with British folk singer Julie Felix. Lastly a short poem and interview close the second disc, recorded from the audience at Dunn's Birdland Progressive Jazz Parlour in Montreal on 8 April, 1958. Is there anymore?

The origin of this BBC session (Disc One) began when bootleg label Yellow Cat released Leonard Cohen - At The Beeb [YC 018] to a wider audience as a silver-disc bootleg. It ran slow and was a few generations from the master. Then Cohen fan “briggY” shared his much improved version on the Dime site. Another music fan, JWB, took a copy and improved on the sound. He said: “I’ve remastered this torrent, removed all the pops and clicks (there were several per song and in between tracks), restored the sound to true mono and improved the EQ which really cleared up the sound. I did not use any compression or noise reduction tricks. I reduced the hiss with some deft EQ moves while still maintaining clarity.”

The original source was from a fan called “Artery”. He says “This is most probably my transfer from Jim D’s cassette. I did it about 6 years ago. Jim wrote to a man at the BBC who sent him the cassette. He’d made a cassette audio copy for his own use I believe and indicated the videotape had been wiped.” So for all who wanted to know, the video of this BBC show has been “destroyed”. Artwork for this comes from “luckburz”. Many thanks to all who had a part in preserving this show and improving upon it. By your actions, many others who were not there in ‘68 can now share the experience. - Professor Re

A new transfer and remaster by Professor Stoned was made available in 2016. After comparison with this I find it surprising that Cohen's vocal seems more distant from the microphone. A link for this alternate source is provided below

Disc One:
01. You Know Who I Am
02. Bird On The Wire
03. The Stranger Song*
04. So Long Marianne*
05. Master Song*
06. There’s No Reason Why You Should Remember Me [improvisation]
07. Sisters Of Mercy*
08. Teachers*
09. Dress Rehearsal Rag
10. Suzanne*
11. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye*
12. Story Of Isaac
13. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong*

* Songs that appeared on the 1967 album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen.
tracks 1-13 were recorded at the Paris Theatre in London - Spring 1968

Disc Two:
01. You Know Who I Am
02. Bird On The Wire
03. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
04. Dress Rehearsal Rag (John Peel relates the story of how Sandy Denny requested this)
05. So Long Marianne

06. The Stranger Song
07. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (duet with Julie Felix)

08. Gift (poem followed by short interview)

tracks 01-05 recorded at BBC Piccadilly 1 studio in London - July 9, 1968, broadcast on John Peel's Top Gear BBC Radio 1 show
tracks 06-07 recorded at BBC TV studios in London - January 27, 1968 broadcast on 'Once More With Felix' Julie Felix's BBC TV show
track 08 recorded from the audience at Dunn's Birdland Progressive Jazz Parlour, Montreal, Quebec on 8 April, 1958.

An alternate version to disc 1 is available.



  1. Looks very promising, Mr. Basement.

    Thanks again.

  2. I downloaded again with a different browser and all files downloaded. Thanks again for the music!

  3. Another excellent boot, generously shared with music lovers. Many, many thanks.

  4. This looks fantastic - can't wait to hear it. Thanks for this, thebasement67!

  5. I love Leonard Cohen! This sounds awesome.
    I already think it should be No. 1, of course, because I like it so much,
    but if this is No. 9, I can't wait for the final top 7!