The Complete Studio Albums Collection
Rated as: Box Set / Album Collection
Compilation Status: Recommended Collection
Specific Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Contemporary Folk
Main Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Folk, Pop
Undertones: Sophisti-Pop, Chamber Folk
Whistling past his daddy’s grave
Well, this box set comprised Cohen’s studio albums up to that point in time, so everything following 2004’s Dear Heather is missing, and of course none of the live albums are here. But the biggest problem is that the set offers exactly zero bonus material, be it in musical form or just as liner notes or new visual material (don’t be fooled, even the 1980s live version of “Tennessee Waltz” tacked onto the end of Dear Heather was a bonus track on the original album). It’s his eleven first albums, in a concise but no-frills packaging. Due to the absolute lack of anything ‚extra‘, judged by box set standards, this thing is a slight disappointment. The Legacy label can do much better, as they have shown with their similarly packaged box set of the Byrds, which came with a stunning abundance of worthy bonus material, rendering it borderline-essential to the inclined listener. This is the exact opposite.
On the positive side, the supposedly ‚re-mastered‘ sound is nice, the CDs come as vinyl replicas (although of the cheap kind – they sort of reproduce the look of the original LPs without being exact miniatures), and it has to be noted that this is an ideal buy for people that, say, have two or three of Cohen’s albums and are already convinced they want all of them – in this case, I can heartily recommend it, the reasonable price is just right for that (though it is slowly going up, so don’t hesitate).
To add insult to the injury, there is a box set version of this called The Complete Columbia Albums Collection which includes Cohen’s six additional live albums – that collection is the holy grail. To our misfortune, this limited edition was victim to the fetish of artificial scarcity and sold out faster than you can say “Suzanne”. It is almost completely elusive these days and, if you can find it, comes for a price that is somehow more money than just buying all the albums separately. The fact they put that out as a thoroughly limited edition gives this box set of only the studio albums the slight but definite metallic taste of a cash-in: There’s literature galore from the field of economic psychology showing that in order to sell something pricy, you need to put it next to a very similar, but slightly inferior product. Make of that what you will.
Still, great to have it all in one place.