Album Review – Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull -‘Give My Love To London.’ (Dramatico)

This year marks fifty years since the 17-year old Marianne Faithfull was spotted at a party by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and a mere three months later found herself having a hit with a cover of the Stones’ ‘As Tears Go By.’ The ups and downs and fictionalisations of the following fifty years have been well-documented, but it’s not just the fact that she’s had an impressive biography, she’s released some damn fine records, too.

Unless you’re one of those cynics constantly snarling ‘so what?’ at absolutely bloody everything, the list of collaborators involved with the making of her twentieth studio album is nothing less than staggering, even before you’ve heard a note of the music. Lyrical collaborators include Nick Cave, Roger Waters, Steve Earle, and Anna Calvi, while musical contributors include Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt, and the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis and Jim Sclavunos.

Of course, the best ingredients in the world won’t necessarily add up to make a fine meal if it’s done badly. The good news is that the main star here is Ms Faithfull herself and this is a fine, fine album. If you’ve ever heard ‘Why D’Ya Do It?’ from her undisputed masterpiece, 1979’s Broken English, you know that she can do anger – and that’s shown here again on ‘Sparrows Will Sing’ and ‘Mother Wolf’ with her railing against the state of the world. The title track is ambiguous – ‘paradise to hell’ with a love of the city and yet it’s a city lit by the light of the moon and riot fire.

The involvement of no less than three of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds here casts a spell over the album, and to these ears, the finest tracks are the beautiful ‘Deep Water’ which they co-wrote and Cave’s song ‘Late Victorian Holocaust’ which he wrote for her. And the final, closing cover of ‘I Get Along Without you Very Well’ is simply heartbreaking (I can’t find any record of her having recorded ‘If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)’ but I’d love to hear her do it).

And the mark of any fine album is the fact that a) I started to listen to it again as soon as I had finished playing it and b) even though I was sent this, I’d be happy to spend my own money on this album.


Give My Love To London is released by Dramatico on September 29.

Album Review: Marianne Faithfull (re-issue)


Marianne Faithfull -‘Broken English.’ (Island)

Widely recognised by many as her greatest album -including the lady herself -this deluxe edition of Broken English reaffirms why it’s such a highly regarded album, as well as having a second disc of original mixes which actually genuinely illuminate the final album, rather than just feeling that they are tacked on.

If Faithfull had been known in the 60s for being the singer of ‘As Tears Go By,’ and Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, then by 1979, things had changed. She had spent time homeless, lost custody of her son and was still battling heroin addiction. Her voice is deeper, cracked and raw on this album, and yet utterly compelling. Faithfull is a woman who has seen a lot, but even when she’s bitter and angry, as she is for much of this album, in keeping with the punk and reggae influences of era that seep onto the record.

The title track oozes with cold war paranoia -and the second CD shows that it is scaled down from the original mix that was planned. Dedicated to Ulrike Meinhof, the co-founder of the Red Army Faction who’d died three years previously, the song was not an exoneration of Meinhof but a realisation, that there but for the grace of God went she. Her covers of Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’ and Dr. Hook’s ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’ she makes her own.

The final track ‘Why’d Ya Do It’ remains one of the most angry songs ever committed to vinyl. (Do not read the rest of this review if you are offended by bad language). As rages at a lover go ‘Every time I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed’ things do not get much more outraged than that. (Astonishingly it was the Antipodeans who seemed most shocked.) Reportedly, the song had been intended for Tina Turner, but it’s no easier to imagine her singing it than it would be Cliff Richard.

1979 was, arguably one of music’s greatest ever years. And Broken English was up there with the best of them. Not just Faithfull’s masterpiece, a masterpiece full stop.


Broken English is re-issued by Island on January 28.

Album review – Marianne Faithfull


Marianne Faithfull -‘Horses and high Heels’

There is no disputing that Marianne Faithfull is an icon and a legend. While some people may try to continue raking over her past, the real reason that she remains in the public eye is that she continues to record and make great records. More importantly, she is doing this on her own terms, without feeling the need to collaborate with Take That or appear on package revival tours.

Whilst the high pint of her career remains 1979’s still-astonishing Broken English, there is much to recommmend on this album, her 22nd. Getting past the frankly awful front cover artwork (like something a junk shop refused, frankly), the album opens with three very strong songs. The triple whammy is ‘The Stations (written by Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan), the encounter with an old lover ‘Why Did We Have To Part?’ and ‘That’s How Every Empire Falls.’ The latter is like the Stones’ ‘She’s A Rainbow’ grown older and wiser.

There is an Americana-edge to the album, which works better on some tracks than on others. There is a dip in the middle of the album with ‘Love Song’ and ‘Gee Baby’ and I cannot help thinking that the album would have been better off without them. No matter: the pace and quality of the album do pick up again.

La Faithfull shows no signs of stopping. Whatever label you want to attach to her, I favour: ‘Marianne Faithful: Singer.’


To download ‘Why Did We have To Part?’ go here

Horses and High Heels is released on March 7.

Some Covers For Saturday Part II

Hi again

well, well and truly back in Scotland, it’s the weekend…so how about a few covers?

(And yes, that is Mrs 17 Seconds and I)

Pixies-‘Head On.’ mp3 (Jesus and Mary Chain)

X-‘Crystal Ship.’ mp3 (The Doors)

Sisters Of Mercy-‘Gimme Shelter.’ mp3 (Rolling Stones)

Residents-‘Satisfaction.’ mp3 (Rolling Stones)

Therapy?-‘Isolation.’ mp3 (Joy Division)

The The-‘I Saw The Light.’ mp3 (Hank Williams)

Marianne Faithfull-‘Working Class Hero.’ mp3 (John Lennon)

Ramones-‘Baby I Love You.’ mp3 (Ronettes)

REM-‘Toys In The Attic.’ mp3 (Aerosmith).

Veruca Salt -‘Somebody.’ mp3(Depeche Mode)

There is no theme here, just a selection of ten cover versions, only one of which (Sisters) I think I have posted here before. All being well, there should be another ten covers here on Sunday.

As always, these will be up for a week. If you like what you here, please go and investigate the bands and original artists themselves, perferably at your local indpendent record shop.