Leonard Cohen Ad Reflects Competing Recording Formats & Diffuse Promotion Strategy
Note: The piece before you began as a simple Signs Of Leonard Cohen post, featuring, according to the original plan, a single graphic – the scanned advertisement from the January 30, 1988 edition of New Musical Express displayed above. But, when I couldn’t figure out what was being promoted, I emailed Dominique BOILE, who had contributed the ad, for that information. Then, as has often happened when Dominique and I confer, things escalated.
My confusion steamed from the recordings listed on the Jan 30, 1988 ad that appeared in New Musical Express: “First We Take Manhattan,” “Bird On The Wire,” “Sisters Of Mercy,” and “Suzanne.” The only commonality I could see was that all those were tracks on the Best of Leonard Cohen album, but that came out in 1975 so New Musical Express wouldn’t be carrying an ad for that in 1988. And I had no clue about the multiplicity of formats listed.
In his response, Dominique directed me to two reference numbers, one of either side of “CBS” at the bottom of the ad: “651352 7″ and “65132 6.”1
Then, he explained that the ad was promoting Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” album due to be released in February 1988 by pushing CBS 651352 7, aka the 7″ vinyl version of “First We Take Manhattan” taken from the forthcoming LP / Cassette / CD “I’m Your Man.”
The same promotion also offered CBS 651352 6, which was described in the ad as a “4 Track 12″ vinyl record “featuring ‘Sisters Of Mercy,’ ‘Bird On The Wire,’ and ‘Suzanne,’” but actually has only three tracks: “First We Take Manhattan” on Side A and “Bird On The Wire” and “Suzanne” on Side B. For maximum confusion, it is also described on the cover itself as a “Maxi Single.”
Update – 22 October 2012: In his collection, Peter Torbijn of The Netherlands has what would appear to be an identical item to the one described above – a 4 track 12″ vinyl Maxi Single with the same reference number (CBS 651352 6). This British-manufactured recording, however, contains – get this – four tracks: “First We Take Manhattan” and “Sisters Of Mercy” on Side A and “Bird On The Wire” and “Suzanne” on Side B.
Although not listed on this ad, a CD was also part of the promotion. CBS 651352 2 had – really – four songs: “First We Take Manhattan,” “Bird On The Wire,” “Sisters Of Mercy,” and “Suzanne.”
And, because that’s not complicated enough, there was also a radio version that was labeled “For Promotion Only – Not For Sale.”
Update – 22 October 2012
To make this post more complete, Dominique BOILE offers this single that is unusual because it truly is a single:
Another disc listed as CBS 651352 7, this Spanish 45 rpm vinyl came in a cover which lists one song on each side: “First We Take Manhattan” and “Sisters Of Mercy.”
While “First We Take Manhattan” is indeed on Side 1, Side 2 is beautifully, pristinely smooth.
Also in hopes of making this post more complete, Peter Torbijn of The Netherlands offers this 7″ single (CBS 651352 7) with the commercial version of “First We Take Manhattan” on the A side and the airplay version of “First We Take Manhattan” on the Adjacent side. The third image show the record in its plain white wrapper (contributed by Dominique BOILE).
And, from Dominique BOILE, the 45 rpm single of “First We Take Manhattan” (with “Sisters Of Mercy” on the flip side) from Holland.
Note: This material is also covered on the DrHGuy site at What I Learned About Promoting Albums In 1988 From A Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man Ad_____________________
- Note: the second number, “65132 6,” is a misprint in the ad; the correct reference number is “651352 6″ [↩]