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 clichéd. 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

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