Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen is the sixth studio album recorded by the American singer Jennifer Warnes. It debuted on the Billboard 200 on February 14, 1987 and peaked at No. 72 in the US Billboard chart and No.33 in the UK albums chart. Originally released by Cypress Records (RCA Records in the UK), it was reissued by Private Music after Cypress went out of business. It is the only Jennifer Warnes album to make the UK albums chart (up to September 2014).
|Famous Blue Raincoat|
|Studio album by|
The Complex, Amigo Studios, Hollywood Sound, The Enterprise, Mama Jo's, Salty Dog Recording,
The Record Plant
|Producer||C. Roscoe Beck, Jennifer Warnes|
|Jennifer Warnes chronology|
Released in November 1986, Famous Blue Raincoat is a tribute to Leonard Cohen, with whom Warnes had toured as a backup singer in the 1970s. The album's songs span much of Cohen's career, from his 1969 album Songs from a Room to his 1984 album Various Positions (on which Warnes sang), and even two songs ("First We Take Manhattan" and "Ain't No Cure for Love") from Cohen's then-unreleased album I'm Your Man.
The idea for the album originated when Cohen assisted Warnes with the lyrics of "Song of Bernadette" while on tour in 1979. Warnes had suggested the album at Arista Records and later MCA Records with no luck. The album's producer, C. Roscoe Beck said, "Leonard seemed to be A&R poison."
Guest contributors include guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Lindley and Robben Ford, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, arranger Van Dyke Parks and Cohen himself duetting on "Joan of Arc".
In August 2007, a remastered and expanded 20th anniversary edition was released by Private Music with four bonus tracks.
Writing retrospectively for Allmusic, music critic William Ruhlmann wrote of the album "Where other singers tended to geld Cohen's often disturbingly revealing poetry, Warnes, working with the composer himself and introducing a couple of great new songs ("First We Take Manhattan" and "Song of Bernadette," which she co-wrote), matched his own versions. The high point may have been the Warnes-Cohen duet on "Joan of Arc," but the album was consistently impressive... For Warnes, the album meant her first taste of real critical success: suddenly a singer who had seemed like a second-rate Linda Ronstadt now appeared to be a first-class interpretive artist." In reviewing the reissue, Steve Horowitz of PopMatters noted, "This anniversary edition... may finally give the album the acclaim it initially deserved." Peter Gerstenzanga of The Village Voice wrote after the reissue, "As much as one admires Warnes's taste in songwriters, the unadorned truth is that Cohen's dark, grave voice is a better instrument for his songs. Also, his original arrangements—from solo-guitar bare to brass-band ironic—are more fitting than the slick stuff here. Stevie Ray Vaughn playing processed blues licks on "First We Take Manhattan"? Inappropriate. Smoky sax on the title track? It's a meditation on betrayal and revenge, not a lounge song. Furthermore, Warnes's melismas (think a less histrionic Ronstadt) sound sweet, not murderous."
All songs written by Leonard Cohen except where noted.