Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Faithfull Fest (from C-60)

Over at the C-60 Low Noise Blog, they have been having a Marianne Faithfull-fest recently, with posts from her middle (and perhaps, best) period...

Marianne Faithfull "A Child's Adventure" (1983)

When Marianne Faithfull released her comeback album, "Broken English", in 1979, it was widely received by the buying public and critically acclaimed as a "masterpiece". She followed that up in 1981 with "Dangerous Acquaintences" which, though not quite on the par of "Broken English", was deemed an excellent piece of music and a natural follow-up to "Broken English".

Then, in 1983, Marianne released "A Child's Adventure". Of the same musical vein and mold as "Broken English" and "Dangerous Acquaintences" these three albums are often referred to as her "Trilogy". After "A Child's Adventure", Marianne has changed musical directions several times. "A Child's Adventure" is another excellent piece of work from Marianne Faithfull.

It starts off with "Times Square", a true MF classic. The bluesy "The Blue Millionaire" is somewhat of a departure for Marianne, at least up to that point, and gives credence to Marianne as a great musical stylist. "Falling From Grace" is an excellent autobiograpical song about her drug problems/bust. The poignant "Morning Come" and "Ashes In My Hand" shows, once again, the depth of her musical range and style. "Running For Our Lives" is another MF classic and is in close running with "Times Square" as my personal favorite from the CD. Marianne Faithfull is a uniquely gifted and talented artist and song stylist.

One listen to "A Child's Adventure" and the other albums that make up her "Trilogy", and you will see for yourself. The music of Marianne Faithfull is a wonderfully diverse tapestry of folk, pop, rock, punk, show tunes, and cabaret. This one may not be "Broken English", but it is Marianne. Excellent music from a truly great artist!

"Running for our Lives", a video from the album:

A1 Times Square 4:22
A2 The Blue Millionaire 5:35
A3 Falling From Grace 3:54
A4 Morning Come 5:16
B1 Ashes in My Hand 4:51
B2 Running for Our Lives 4:48
B3 Ireland 4:39
B4 She's Got a Problem 3:56


Marianne Faithfull "Dangerous Acquaintances" (1981)

During her 1980's comeback into the 'upwardly cool of rock circles,' Marianne Faithfull has once again put her life into song with 'Dangerous Acquaintances.' My favorites on this release are 'Intrigue' and 'Truth, Bitter Truth.' Both songs show a deep reflection of her take on relationships and told in a way only Ms. Faithfull can convey. The whole CD is a 'this is what's been going on with me' letter as told by a woman who stands as a testament to strength of character and firmness of purpose.

Faithfull's voice is the center of the album. It is worn, tired, and corroded with a life far too acquainted with the worst life can throw at you and is completely unlike any other female rock voice, ever.

The songs on the album vary in feel and tempo, but all of them resolve into themes of loneliness and lost love. My two favorite songs range from the charming "Easy in the City" with it's wonderful midtempo rock beat and vibe to the final song on the album, the absolutely devastating "Truth Bitter Truth". One line in that song, "Where did it go to, my youth" so matches her voice it stabs me right in the heart whenever I listen to it.

"Dangerous Acquaintences" is the second album in what often are referred to as her Trilogy of her soul. "Broken English" and "A Child's adventures", the two others.

The strength of this album is in the lyrics...although some of the music could have been done differently...but it was the 80's.

Here is a not very well known video and the second single from "Dangerous Acquaintances". "Truth, Bitter Truth":

Marianne Faithfull - Truth, bitter Truth 1982

A1 Sweetheart 3:15
A2 Intrigue 4:29
A3 Easy in the City 3:16
A4 Strange One 2:51
A5 Tenderness 3:53
B1 For Beautie's Sake 3:30
B2 So Sad 4:31
B3 Eye Communication 3:35
B4 Truth Bitter Truth 7:24


Marianne Faithfull "Broken English" (1979)

Even as she had hits in the '60s with "As Tears Go By" (written by her paramour Mick Jagger), Marianne Faithfull was primarily known as Jagger's girlfriend, and any sort of talent she may have possessed was not worth noting. But after she and Mick called it off, Faithfull began a slow recovery back into both her music and her life. Heroin addiction had sent Faithfull on a nightmarish journey that would be effectively captured on the Rolling Stones' classic "Sister Morphine".

It's late 1979. The last three years have brought wave after wave of new bands; snot-nosed punks all of them, approaching their demons from mostly the same angle with fistfuls of fury and tormented voices. Then out of some deep hibernation comes this bird, a child of the sixties who's obviously seen past the wall of incense smoke and peered behind the beaded curtain. Marianne Faithfull lays down her own demons and concerns, one by one, the personal next to the public. She seethes, crackles, and spits out her lyrics like venom.

Her version of "Working Class Hero" is as good as Lennon's in my book; the title cut has no equivalent outside of Patti Smith and is more in alignment with the British wing of punk that was contemporary with this album; "Guilt" is as direct a statement as "Broken English" albeit in the personal realm, not the political; and in "Why'd'ya Do It?" she made a song that not only got me hooked on her from just reading about it, but that delivers a vituperative punch that no female rocker until PJ Harvey.

The album was widely hailed by critics and audiences alike on its release, going platinum without the aid of a huge hit single. Even better, it sounds like a debut album from a totally different artist, which in many ways it is. "As Tears Go By", be damned. This is Marianne Faithfull at her most naked and emotional.

This woman is an inspiration, a survivor!

A1 Broken English 4:34
A2 Witches' Song 4:43
A3 Brain Drain 4:13
A4 Guilt 5:05
B1 The Ballad of Lucy Jordan 4:09
B2 What's the Hurry? 3:05
B3 Working Class Hero 4:40
B4 Why D'Ya Do It 6:45


Marianne Faithfull "Blazing Away" (1990)

Live albums are often regarded as poor relations to the 'proper' studio output, often wrongly. Blazing Away is an example of one of the lost treasures which are so easily overlooked this by this attitude.

It starts slowly, but gets into it's stride with Guilt, the venom starting to flow in preparation for the main course. Enter Working Class Hero, a track she has almost made her own, shame about the instrumental jazz ramblings in the middle but what do you expect from Greenwich Village session musicians (I havent Googled, I may be doing them a disservice)? Nonetheless she delivers it with true power and anger, spitting bile over the small audience. It was recorded in St. Annes Cathedral, Brooklyn, and the acoustic is utterly superb. The sound manages to be both expansive and intimate, not an easy combination.
This acoustic frames a blinding performance of Sister Morphine beautifully, Marianne projecting the emotion invoked by Jaggers masterpiece as if she was walking you round the inside of her life. Which, of course, she is. It's why we love her. The album is worth getting for this track alone. I cried.

I cried for different reasons at an enormously indifferent performance of Why D'Ya Do It though. Unfortunately this iconic track has become a cliché, and now she sings it with a happy twinkle in her eye; the bite is lost, along with Steve York's original driving bassline. One Fernando Saunders, who also co-produced, was way out of his depth here. Easily the lowest point on the album.

Lucy Jordan soon dispels the gloom and Times Square is a tour de force. Another, more unexpected, highlight is an eerie lament 'She Moves Through The Fair'. This is performed solo and in total silence from the audience. Sent a shiver down my spine.

The finale is of course Broken English, performed with a profound honesty, and another track that defeats the bassist.

All in all though, as an exibition of that astonishing chainsaw through silk voice this is an umissable album, superbly produced and engineered. There are many Greatest Hits collections out there, but this one has a twist.

1 Les prisons du Roy 6:16
2 Strange Weather 5:12
3 Guilt 7:51
4 Working Class Hero 6:07
5 Sister Morphine 7:25
6 As Tears Go By 4:25
7 Why'd Ya Do It? 6:31
8 When I Find My Life 2:59
9 Ballad of Lucy Jordan 5:08
10 Times Square 4:57
11 Blazing Away 4:10
12 She Moved Through the Fair 2:09
13 Broken English 7:37



More info about Marianne Faithfull:

No comments: