Can't Forget: A Souvenir Of The Grand Tour is a grab bag of performances from Leonard Cohen's most recent tour that includes rarities, covers, and a pair of new songs rehearsed during soundcheck. Don't let what could be perceived as a cynical attempt to empty the vault of any usable scrap come between you and this collection. The cut-and-paste mentality prevents this from being a cohesive album but doesn't stop it from being an incredibly satisfying listen.
The less frequently played songs are likely to be the attraction to diehard Cohen fans and they won't be disappointed when they hear the master and his band offer up "Field Commander Cohen," "Joan Of Arc," and "I Can't Forget." These three sound so good it's impossible not to wish they were more frequently played. "Stages" is another treat built on a clever monologue from Cohen about the stages of men's attractiveness to women that is mashed up against a soundcheck version of "Tower Of Song." It's a shame we only get an excerpt of that as the arrangement is substantially different from the one heard on Live in Dublin from this same tour.
Those rarities may be the selling point for Can't Forget but the two new songs only increase my anticipation for the successor to the magnificent Popular Problems. Cohen and his versatile band give us something like the blues on "Never Gave Nobody Trouble." It's a genre not frequently part of his musical palette but his gruff weathered voice and the versatility of his touring band are more than up to the task of summoning the essence of contemporary blues. "Got A Little Secret" is the more lyrically satisfying of the new compositions with Cohen using his mastery of language and compelling use of contradictions to tell the tale of a love affair headed nowhere.
Can't Forget is a minor addition to a legendary catalog but serves as a souvenir of the magical tour that was, demonstrates how vital Cohen is, and serves an appetizer for what he has in store for us. Here's hoping that wait won't be long for both a new album and another, still grander tour.