Best Bootlegs: Leonard Cohen Live At The BBC 1968

Because I may not know music, but I know what you should like

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… and where to find it

Leonard Cohen – Recorded Live At The BBC 1968

These tracks are high quality audio recordings1 of Leonard Cohen’s 1968 appearance on BBC-TV.2

As the blurb on this site puts it,

These well-preserved sessions at the BBC in 1968 offer a fly-on-the-wall experience to witness a young Cohen singing practically the entire first 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.

The evolution of this version of the BBC broadcast is interesting and instructive:

The origin of this BBC session 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 hiss with some deft EQ moves while still maintaining clarity.”

But the original source was from a fan called “Artery”. This is how he came upon a copy: “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.”

Leonard Cohen, of course, is the singer on all the tracks, with Julie Felix joining him on Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.  Dave Cousins and The Strawbs have been mentioned as the backing band at this BBC session.

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Click on image to enlarge

Tracks

  1. You Know Who I Am (5.2MB)
  2. Bird On The Wire (6.0MB)
  3. The Stranger Song* (8.6MB)
  4. So Long Marianne* (10.9MB)
  5. Master Song* (11.0MB)
  6. There’s No Reason Why You Should Remember Me [improvisation] (2.3MB)
  7. Sisters Of Mercy* (5.4MB)
  8. Teachers* (5.4MB)
  9. Dress Rehearsal Rag (8.1MB)
  10. Suzanne* (6.0MB)
  11. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye* (5.2MB)
  12. Story Of Isaac (5.7MB)
  13. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong* (5.4MB)
  14. Bird On The Wire (4.9MB)
  15. So Long Marianne (8.1MB)
  16. You Know Who I Am (4.3MB)
  17. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Duet with Julie Felix) (4.4MB)

* Songs that can be found on Cohen’s 1967 album Songs Of Leonard Cohen.

Tracks By Origin:

  • Tracks 1-13 Recorded Spring 1968 at Paris Theatre, London
  • Tracks 1-5 Broadcast August 31, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
  • Tracks 6-13 Broadcast September 7, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
  • Tracks 14-16 Recorded August 11, 1968 & Broadcast on BBC Radio 1 (”Top Gear with John Peel”)
  • Track 17 Recorded December 19673 & Broadcast on BBC2 TV (”Once More With Felix”)

Download Information

The quality of these recordings is outstanding, and, to my ears at least, this cleaned up version is better than earlier bootlegs of this same sessions.4

The files are already in MP3 format available for download directly from the site, thus avoiding the need to enter codes, decompress the files, or deal with the hassles of services such as Rapidshare. The files are also tagged (correctly, as far as I can determine) with the name of the song, the artist, and “BBC Broadcasts 1968” listed as the album name. Only the cover art, available on site, need be added post-download.

Viewers should be aware that

  1. This site makes bootlegs available for a limited time only. Those interested in Leonard Cohen – Live At The BBC should download it as soon as possible.
  2. Leonard Cohen – Live At The BBC is an excellent  mono recording. No matter how many speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, etc. are engaged in playing these tracks, they will remain mono.

Leonard Cohen – Live At The BBC can be downloaded at

Roio – Leonard Cohen Live At The BBC

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  1. Sample rate of 192 kbps []
  2. According to this site and other sources, the video recording of this BBC show was destroyed. []
  3. While January 27, 1968 is often posted as the date of the Once More With Felix Show, a first hand account has documented the date to have been in Dec 1968 []
  4. Note: This bootleg is sometimes available in an uncompressed format, which is superior to same version transmitted as MP3 files. My experience has been, however, that most fans prefer the ease of downloading MP3 files, even with the inherent loss in fidelity to the sometimes problematic download of uncompressed files or use of torrents. []