LEONARD COHEN: LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970
This is the latest surprise artifact of master music documentary maker Murray Lerner’s assignment to film the violent, politicized 1970 Isle of Wight rock festival. Culled from the same mass of footage that’s already saved us some of the most gripping performances ever from The Who, it captures at close hand a full, revealing, sometimes magical 77-minute set by a then 35-year-old poet Leonard Cohen, with just two albums under his belt, performing the likes of “Bird on a Wire,” “Suzanne,” “The Stranger Song” and the brand new “Famous Blue Raincoat.” Minutes before, some in the crowd were setting fire to equipment during Jimi Hendrix’s set, and Cohen, though still a novice musical performer, attacks his material in an especially lyric-driven style, so intense, slow and quietly powerful that he hushes the crowd. The fiddle player in the band assembled for Cohen is none other than Charlie Daniels—and they’re very good together. Interviews with Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson and Judy Collins, present off-stage at the time, add new commentary. Picture and sound quality are high throughout.