CD Review: Listening Booth: 1970


Marc Cohn

“Listening Booth:  1970”

July 20, 2010

Saguaro Road Records

Produced and Arranged by John Leventhal

Co-Produced by Rick DePofi

So.  I’ve been waiting (and hoping) for that one CD to review this year that would surely make it to the top of my best of list for 2010.  Over six months in to the new decade I finally heard that CD.  “Listening Booth: 1970” - Marc Cohn (Saguaro Road Records).

Marc Cohn has referred to this CD as his best.  I’m not willing to go quite that far (just yet), since, after all, it is a CD of covers.  Over the years, Cohn has proven to be a genuinely gifted songwriter.  On this CD he shares his soulful voice.

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Cohn felt the year 1970 was pivotal for him.  He would go to the local record store, choose some records and enter the Listening Booth to check them out before buying the music.  Thus the concept for this CD:  listening to, or in Cohn’s case, recording those songs that made an impact on him during his formidable years.

As a fan of singer-songwriters, I usually have low expectations of a covers CD.  After all, a singer-songwriter is supposed to sing and record songs that they actually write.  Hence the term singer-songwriter.  So when they sing songs written by other people, I tend to wonder what the motives are.  Fulfilling a contractual obligation to the record company?  Writer’s block?  I need not have worried when it came to Marc Cohn.  Actually, any new music from Cohn is a cause for celebration.  From his debut in 1991, he has only released 4 CD’s of original material over a 16+ year period.  Only four!  I consider each of those CD’s as a greatest hits collection.  Thus, something new from Cohn is a big deal in my book.

Marc Cohn exemplifies the term “quality over quantity”.   So I should not have been so surprised that I would enjoy a CD of covers by Cohn.  There is not bad song in the bunch.  The list of writers include some of the most successful artists of all time:  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, and Van Morrison, just to name a few.  Cohn shares vocals with India.Arie, Kristina Train, Aimee Mann and Jim Lauderdale.

If I must choose some favorite tracks: “Wild World” and “Maybe I’m Amazed”.  Despite my initial hesitation that “Make It With You” is only meant to be heard on AM Radio; Marc Cohn & India.Arie give it plenty of soul.  Cohn is at his best on the mid- to up-tempo songs.

Here is a track listing for “Listening Booth: 1970” with writer credits in (italics) and a sampling of some of the other artists who have recorded these songs:

Wild World (Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens) Jimmy Cliff, Jose Feliciano, Mr. Big, Maxi Priest

Look at Me (John Lennon) John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band

Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney) Petula Clark, Joe Cocker, Faces, Lena Horne, Nancy Sinatra

Make It with You (with India.Arie) (David Gates) Bread, Marc Anthony, Philip Bailey, Aretha Franklin. Teddy Pendergrass, Dusty Springfield, The Whispers, Andy Williams

The Letter (Wayne Carson Thompson) The Box Tops (1967), Joe Cocker (1970)

The Only Living Boy in New York (Paul Simon) Simon & Garfunkel, Everything But the Girl, David Mead

After Midnight (John J. Cale) Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Chet Atkins, Jerry Garcia, Sergio Mendes, Leon Russell, Steve Winwood

The Tears of a Clown (with Kristina Train) (Henry Crosby, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder) The Beat, Petula Clark, The English Beat, The Miracles

No Matter What (with Aimee Mann) (Pete Ham) Badfinger, Def Leppard, Jellyfish, The Knack

New Speedway Boogie (with Jim Lauderdale) (Jerry Garcia) Grateful Dead

Into the Mystic (Van Morrison) Paul Carrack, Ben E. King, Michael McDonald, Van Morrison,

Long As I Can See the Light (John Fogerty) Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker

A partial Marc Cohn Discography:

Marc Cohn

Release Date: February 12, 1991

Label: Atlantic / Wea

The Rainy Season

Release Date: May 25, 1993

Label: Atlantic / Wea

Burning The Daze

Release Date: March 17, 1998

Label: Atlantic / Wea

Marc Cohn Live 04/05

Release Date: 2005

Label: United Musicians

The Very Best Of Marc Cohn

Release Date: June 20, 2006

Label: Atlantic / Wea

Join The Parade

Release Date: October 9, 2007

Label: Decca

Join The Parade Live EP

Artist: Marc Cohn

Label: Miles Away Records

Release Date: 7/8/2008

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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