On August 31, 1970, Leonard Cohen was scheduled to play the third Isle of Wight Festival. Under chaotic conditions, an unkempt Cohen took the stage without hesitation at 2 a.m in a safari jacket and jeans over his pajamas, along with the Army -- producer Bob Johnson on organ, piano, and guitar; Elkin "Bubba" Fowler on bass and banjo; fiddler Charlie Daniels; guitarist Ron Cornelius; and vocalists Corlynn Hanney, Susan Mussmano, and Donna Washburn. It's all here on CD and DVD from Legacy. Cohen played songs from his first two albums, debuted a few, recited poems, and told stories. The CD captures the entire performance in nearly pristine sound. The hits (of the time) are here, the banter is here, and the entire performance by the band is so special it will leave the listener utterly satisfied. Whether it's "So Long Marianne," the poem "They Locked Up a Man," the stellar reading of "The Partisan," or the chilling version of "Famous Blue Raincoat," this is top-notch Cohen. The DVD is imperfect but is still essential viewing artistically and historically.
Spin (p.90) - "[H]e transforms his lonely songs into something communal, into a solitude everyone can share..."
Clash (magazine) - "One of the most remarkable voices in musical history is captured here, early in his career and in the early hours of the morning..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.77) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Cohen almost sounds flush with excitement here...he's helped by a reverant audience."
Uncut (magazine) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "Whether singing, reciting or talking, Cohen never misses a phonetic beat....There's a clever underlying structure to the set..."