Monday, 14 January 2013

Marianne Faithfull - Broken English (Deluxe Edition)

Marianne FaithfullBroken English (Deluxe Edition) [UMC/Island]

In the tapestry of rock and roll there have been many icons and artists that have fallen by the wayside, either from drink, drugs, ego problems or simply just losing the will to continue on the merry-go-round of show business. There are few survivors that come back stronger than they left.

In 1979 Marianne Faithfull was a shadow of her former self. The once consort of Rolling Stone, Mick Jagger, 1960’s poster girl and every rock stars fantasy girlfriend was now in a new decade homeless, addicted to heroin and penniless. Although wounded and fluttering the fire that began in the 60’s to create something worthwhile and something that would last was still burning, if only a slight ember.

She has been interviewed since about this period and has commented that she wanted to “show everyone”, to prove to everyone (and maybe herself) that she wasn’t finished and in fact could contribute something of value within music.

'Broken English' has been called a masterpiece and although I think this is a strong word to throw about I can honestly say that it’s Faithfull’s own jewel in the crown. A collection of songs that sit easily amongst the most popular new music and one I’m sure will be rapidly re-discovered by the trendies, upon the re-issue release this month.

Backed my musicians such as Steve Winwood (whose synth arrangements fit the lyrics and production perfectly) are noticeable throughout. Complete with looping bass lines and robotic drums they are paired with Synthesizers and guitars without becoming overused and clich├ęd. Unlike a lot of music of the same era, here they are used as icing on a well constructed, if poisoned, wedding cake and unlike the others have kept the soul rather than just directionless posing at the forefront.

The mostsurprising ‘instrument’ used throughout is Faithfull’s voice. The once soft clipped beautiful vocals from ‘As Tears Go By’ are replaced with a cigarette and drugs ravaged gravely tone which give the weight of the lyrics within, a real sense of truth and authenticity to the subject matter.

The song writing is great throughout with tracks such as ‘Witches Song’, ‘Broken English’,’The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’ (which has become one of Faithfull’s most famous performances) and the final track ‘Why D’Ya Do It’ which was surprisingly offered to Tina Turner by writer Heathcote Williams before Faithfull took hold of it. After the first minute of the song you’ll realise why Tina couldn’t have sung this in a million years and with lyrics such as “Why D’ya do it, she said, when you know it makes me sore, cause she had cobwebs up her fanny and I believe in giving to the poor” I’m sure you’ll agree. The album was later rated R13 in New Zealand and was plastered with a ‘Parental Advisory’ in North America.

An essential album for anyone into the dark underbelly of rock and roll and proof that no matter what life throws at you there is always a chance you can climb back up to the top.

Released on January 28th

Monday, 7 January 2013



01. Don’t bother. The racks and iTunes lists are already rammed with rubbish bands, why bother adding to the carnage?

02. O.K., so you’ve ignored the advice of your parents, teachers, careers advisors and pretty much anyone else that has a vested interest in your post secondary school future, you’re in a band.

03. Sack your mate, he’s rubbish. He’s probably hiding back on bass guitar or rhythm guitar. He’s no good but he thinks you’re great so you keep them for your weekly ego boost. Cut to the chase early as it’ll just cause a row later. If you are the bass player or rhythm guitar player you should probably commit indie hara-kiri and dive in front of the gravy train before you ruin everyone else’s chance.

04. Impressing your mates isn’t enough. Yes you really got the crowd going at your cousins 16th birthday and that ‘gig’ at your mates end of year party really went over well but the average bitter drinking brick layers down the Dog and Bollock pub in Fulham think you’re a “bleedin’ racket” so play something people want to hear on a Friday night or pack your Japanese Les Paul copy away for good.

05. Cover vesions always work better than your finally honed original compositions but if your want to play originals don’t add a cover or two into your limited set as it just draws attention to how shit your songs actually are.

06. Listen to the sound guy. 10 years ago they were standing in your shoes and they have a massive chip on their shoulder. If you ignore their pleas to “turn that guitar amp down from 10” they’ll screw your sound up as you prepare your stance for the big ‘November Rain’ solo and make you sound like George Formby.

07. Throw away any business cards that get pushed in your palm from people that “work for a record company and really want to sign you”. If ANYONE is interested in you then you don’t need to chase them and beg for it, they’ll find you and make the first move.

08. Band managers fall into a few categories. The guy with cash on the hip, love for music but no real experience at all within the industry. These guys are great for getting rehearsals paid for, blagging some new equipment and for getting the band drunk after the gig. They’ll do nothing to get you to the next stage of your career. The second lot are the ex-music industry guys that were once accepted behind the velvet rope but are now as welcome at the EMI Christmas party as Jimmy Saville at the Early Learning Centre. These are the most dangerous kind, they’ll fill your head with magic and lies about how “we’re really making ground with Steve Lilywhite” when in fact their email to his MySpace page bounced back a few seconds after their message was sent. These guys/girls are a waste of time and an iron ball around your skinny jeaned legs. For Gods sake don’t sign a contract with these leeches.

09. It’s ALL been done before. Just because you and you’re mates haven’t heard it doesn’t mean there aren’t 1000 bands that sound just like you around or in fact 20 years ago. There are 12 notes in western music. You think you’ve got a new combination? Good luck. Just make your own chair, don’t try and re-design it with 6 legs.

10. Shut up. If you’re the drummer then play drums, if you’re the singer then sing. Nobody wants your thoughts on the Middle East crisis or the fiscal cliff when you’re plugging your demo on Hospital Radio in Derby. Talk about the music, more importantly YOUR music, NOT bands you hate.

11. Be honest. But not dull. If you in fact spent Saturday night at your mums drunk on hooch with the bassist rowing about the C minor chord not falling into the F properly for your new songs chorus then keep this fine anecdote to yourself, even your mum didn’t care . Stick to “we’re just working on some new sounds at the moment, really exciting times, we can’t wait to bring them into the set” if asked.

12. Clothes maketh the band. You don’t have to be The Hives but you all need to look like you’re in the same band/gang. Your guitarist may work in a bank Monday to Friday but if 99% of the band looks like Lemmy and the other like Brian Epstein then you have a problem.

13. Get a day job. You play gigs at night, all your audience works or studies in the day time, get out of bed and get some money rolling in until…well the money starts rolling in. Guitar strings and rehearsals cost money. Major sore point and cracks appear when one or more of the group is backing the rest but is getting no say in the musical side or direction at crunch moments. Pay your way you lazy dreamers.

14. Don’t jump on trends. By the time new trends are making waves and getting column inches in the music rags then they are already 6 months old and by changing to suit the new fad you’ll look like a Teddy Boy at Woodstock.

15. Stick to the script. If some snot nosed reporter or blogger asks what other bands you like, be honest but not dull (see point 11) if you’re a metal band, a nod to Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Motorhead is fine. Bringing up your Ravi Shankar Box set you got for Christmas to improve your “exotic scales” isn’t. The truth is that most music fans already know nearly everything about the bands they love it’s comforting to have them regurgitate facts they’ve already heard, you’re funding to the NRA or EDL is only going to effect the mosh pit numbers.

16. Listen to your betters, not your elders. Just because someone has been a record producer for 30 years doesn’t mean they know anything about making a successful record. The evidence? Well if they did know the secret to a successful hit record then they would’ve done, many times over. If the “friend” of the manager is putting you up in his ‘vintage’ studio and has “worked with them all” but is smoking roll ups and borrowing a fiver off before you’ve plugged in your tuner then it’s safe to say that he has more riding on you being a success then you do. Ditch em’. Music Tech students are a great blag, they want to work and get experience, usually have free access to studios at college/university and can be pushed around by 5 musicians easily enough.

17. Remember that it’s not about talent, but drive. You want to see a talented musician at Wembley Stadium then look to the right of the stage during the gig, he’ll be the one tuning and changing strings for the guitarist on stage as he furrows his brown looking for the elusive E7#9 chord. The musicians that are driven are ready to play when and wherever the chance arises, at no point do you want people to say “I didn’t know you were in a pop group”. It should be the only talk about when discussing you. The famous groups DO get out of bed at 5am for a Breakfast Radio spot to discuss their new single for 20 seconds. Bands you’ve never heard of sleep in and nurse another hangover.

18. Set realistic goals for yourself. Baby steps and goals that are achieved show progress, keep momentum and confidence high. Playing one gig, getting paid £200 (less beer money) and announcing to the crowd that Oasis will be supporting YOU this time next year will only be setting you up for the fall, and for us Brits, we love to see people knocked of their perch. Proof? Look how David Blaine was revered in the USA but mocked in the UK for his “I’m in a Perspex box ‘trick’”. Nobody over the age of 15 likes a big mouth smart arse.

19. Write and tailor songs for the venues you play. If you are playing in the back room of your local ‘real ale’ pub then a sixteen minute quasi-classical rock opera is probably going to fall on the few deaf ears that turned up. Save the ‘Sgt.Pepper’ tracks for the album. Your live shows should be full of songs that people want to hear and sing along to, they’ve paid their money on the door, they are your boss for the evening. Give em’ what they want to hear and mean it!

20. No stupid band names. Although ‘Jimmy Hitler and the Wheelchair Dodgers’ sounded hilarious at 4am while the band was stoned off their chuffs if the band beats all the odds and makes it to a record deal then you’ll be followed around by this moniker forever. See ‘The Beach Boys’ who for reference considered changing their name to ‘Beach’ in the early 70’s as 30 something family men with beards being touted as ‘Beach Boys’ while the Vietnam War raged on seemed a bit restrictive to their image on the rock underground. See also The Bollock Brothers.