Marianne Faithful – Broken English (1979)

faithfullfrontcover1Broken English is the seventh studio album by English singer Marianne Faithfull (born December 29, 1946). It was released on 2 November 1979 by Island Records. The album marked a major comeback for Faithfull after years of drug abuse, homelessness, and suffering from anorexia. It is often regarded as her “definitive recording” and Faithfull herself described it as her “masterpiece”.

Broken English was Faithfull’s first major release since her album Love in a Mist (1967). After ending her relationship with Mick Jagger in 1970 and losing custody of her son, Faithfull’s career went into a tailspin as she suffered from heroin addiction and lived on the streets of London. Severe laryngitis, coupled with persistent drug abuse during this period, permanently altered Faithfull’s voice, leaving it cracked and lower in pitch. She attempted to make a comeback in 1976 with the release of Dreamin’ My Dreams, which noted only a small success. Shortly afterwards, Faithfull began working with musician Barry Reynolds who initially produced the songs “Broken English” and “Why D’Ya Do It?”. The demos attracted the attention of Chris Blackwell who signed Faithfull to his record label Island Records.

The album was recorded at Matrix Studios in London. Faithfull collaborated with producer Mark Miller Mundy with whom she recorded all songs for the album. After having the whole album recorded, he suggested that the music should be “more modern and electronic” and brought in Steve Winwood on keyboards. Musically, Broken English is a new wave rock album with elements of other genres, such as punk, blues and reggae.

mariannefaithful01After its release, Broken English received critical acclaim. It peaked at number eighty-two on the Billboard 200, becoming her first album to chart in the United States since Go Away from My World (1965) and giving Marianne Faithfull a first nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. In the United Kingdom, it reached number fifty-seven and was also successful worldwide peaking into the top five in countries, such in Germany, France and New Zealand. Broken English was certified platinum in Germany and France and sold over one million copies worldwide. Two singles were released from the album, with “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” peaking at number forty-eight on the UK Singles Chart. The album was included on NME magazine’s list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” and in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Faithfull’s immediately preceding albums, Dreamin’ My Dreams and Faithless, had been in a relatively gentle folk or country and western style. Broken English was a radical departure, featuring a contemporary fusion of rock, punk, new wave and dance, with liberal use of synthesizers. After years of cigarette smoking, Faithfull’s voice was in a lower register, far raspier, and had a more world-weary quality than in the past that matched the often raw emotions expressed in the newer songs.

The backing band of Barry Reynolds, Joe Mavety (guitars), Steve York (bass) and Terry Stannard (drums) had been formed in 1977 to tour Ireland with Faithfull promoting Dreamin’ My Dreams.

Marianne Faithfull recounted how Mark Mundy was brought on as the album’s producer: “I don’t think I could have handled Broken English without a producer. You can’t imagine what it was like. There I am with no respect at all within the music business. … So I found somebody who wanted the break, and that was Mark Mundy. He wanted to be a record producer, and he had some great ideas.”

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The album’s title track took inspiration from terrorist figures of the time, particularly Ulrike Meinhof of the Baader-Meinhof group. “Guilt” was informed by the Catholic upbringing of the singer and her composer Barry Reynolds. “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”, originally performed by Dr Hook, is a melancholy tale of middle class housewife’s disillusionment; Faithfull’s version became something of an anthem[citation needed] and was used on the soundtracks to the films Montenegro (1981) and Thelma & Louise (1991). “What’s the Hurry?” was described by Faithfull as reflecting the everyday desperation of the habitual drug user. Her cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” was recorded as a tribute to her own heroes such as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, and Lennon himself.

The last track, the six-and-a-half-minute “Why’d Ya Do It?”, is a caustic, graphic rant of a woman reacting to her lover’s infidelity. The lyrics began with the man’s point of view, relating the bitter tirade of his cheated-on lover. It was set to a grinding tune inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s recording of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”. Poet and writer Heathcote Williams had originally conceived the lyrics as a piece for Tina Turner to record, but Faithfull succeeded in convincing him that Turner would never record such a number. Its plethora of four-letter words and explicit references to oral sex caused controversy and led to a ban in Australia. (by wikipedia)

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Although the boundaries have shifted in the decades since this album’s release, Broken English has lost none of its trenchant appeal. And despite Courtney Love and many angry grrrl groups using explicit lyrics, Why d’Ya Do It? still sounds fresh, perhaps because it originally was written as a poem by Heathcote Williams. Her version of Lennon’s Working Class Hero sounds as sharp as ever, while the brooding title track is still relevant today. On the melodic side, Lucy Jordan has become quite a standard and could easily be considered a country weepie, while Witches Song remains eerie and anthemic. The sound is typical 80’s rock with tight musicianship supporting this classic monument to decadence and despair. This is probably her best selling album of all time for all the wrong reasons! The other two works from the same period, A Child’s Adventure and Dangerous Acquaintances, are equally excellent and will richly reward the listener. Nevertheless, Broken English stands tall as a masterpiece of broken taboos, subversive poetics and timeless songs. (Peter Uys )

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Personnel:
Jim Cuomo (saxophone)
Marianne Faithfull (vocals)
Guy Humphries (guitar)
Joe Mavety (guitar)
Barry Reynolds (guitar)
Morris Pert (percussion)
Terry Stannard (drums)
Steve York (bass)
Darryl Way (violin)
Steve Winwood (keyboards)
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background vocals:
Dyan Birch – Frankie Collins – Isabella Dulaney

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Tracklist:
01. Broken English (Faithfull/Reynold/Mavety/York/Stannard) 3.45
02. Witches’ Song (Faithfull/Reynold/Mavety/York/Stannard) 4.43
03. Brain Drain (Brierley) 4.13
04. Guilt (Reynolds) 5.05
05. The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan (Silverstein) 4.09
06. What’s The Hurry (Mavety) 3.05
07. Working Class Hero (Lennon) 4.40
08. Why D’Ya Do It (William/Reynold/Mavety/York/Stannard/Faithfull) 6.45

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARIANNE FAITHFUL !

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Marianne Faithfull – Easy Come Easy Go (2008)

FrontCover1Easy Come, Easy Go is a studio album of cover versions by English singer-songwriter Marianne Faithfull, which was released in the EU on 10 November 2008. The album is produced by Hal Willner and features guest appearances from a variety of musicians. It was released as both a standard 10-track CD and a special 18-track edition with a DVD documentary by Anne Rohart under Jean-Baptiste Mondino’s artistic direction, with both Faithfull and Wilner commenting on the song selection. A collectible 2-disc vinyl pressing is also available. The album was recorded with Pro Tools in NYC at the Sear Sound Studio.

The EU release on Naive was 10 November 2008.

The album has so far peaked at #100 on the UK Albums Chart as reported on The Official UK Chart Company website on 23 March 2009 and became her first album to chart on the U.S Billboard 200 chart since 1990 The album peaked #23 at Australian Top 50 Jazz & Blues Album Year End Chart. (by wikipedia)

MarianneFaithfull01Thank you Hal Willner. She’s so much more powerful here than on her Polly Jean Harvey-Nick Cave flub of 2005–in part because the old songs outweigh the Meloy-Neko-Espers numbers included to prove the old bat is still hip to the jive, but also because detailed orchestration as well as dramatic commitment renew even the filthy Bessie Smith title tune, done classic blues style but with Lenny Pickett’s sarrusophone providing a sprightly bass groan. It seems crazy to say that her “Down From Dover” equals Dolly Parton’s or her “In My Solitude” Billie Holiday’s–they’re great singers and she’s not. But working together, Faithfull and Willner convert them into pop artsongs that make their own kind of sense in the company of other very different pop artsongs, including Brian Eno and Judee Sill compositions previously beloved only by their mutually exclusive cults. Not the Espers one, though. Eclecticism has its limits. (by Robert Christgau)

Booklet02ASongstress Marianne Faithfull last collaborated with producer Hal Willner on her iconic Strange Weather album in 1987. Though Faithfull has continued to record sporadically — and has written and published her memoirs — it’s odd to think that she hasn’t worked with Willner again until now, because then as now, the match feels effortless and natural. Like Strange Weather, Easy Come Easy Go is a covers collection, featuring Faithfull in different musical settings and interpreting the songs of everyone from Merle Haggard to Smokey Robinson to Duke Ellington to Randy Newman to the Decemberists to Morrissey with a killer guest list including Antony Hegarty, Rufus Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Jarvis Cocker, Jenni Muldaur, Sean Lennon, Warren Ellis, Nick Cave, and Keith Richards. The core band on this set includes old friends like Marc Ribot and Greg Cohen as well as drummer Jim White, Rob Burger, Doug Weiselman, Steve Weisberg, Barry Reynolds, Steven Bernstein, Marty Ehrlich, and Lenny Pickett. The sense of stylistic sprawl on these 12 songs is incredible. The album opener, a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Down from Dover,” features the full band and guests numbering 18 strong! Faithfull’s trademark deep-throated, whiskey-and-cigarettes-ravaged voice is in better shape than it’s been in a decade at least. It’s full and expressive, and she brings up a depth of passion for this sad tale that almost soars. The band, arranged by Weisberg, plays with beautiful space and elegant harmonics with nice work by Ribot and Burger.

Front+BackCover1Cave sings backing vocals on the Decemberists’ “The Crane Wife 3,” its lithe rock arrangement shaded by a beautiful British folk-style melody and gorgeous bass work by Cohen, celeste by Burger, and a three-piece string section. While Wainwright’s signature backing vocals grace a jazzy arrangement of Espers’ “Children of Stone,” and the chart is eight minutes of pure, nocturnal lounge lizard eros, it does go on a bit too long, emptying it somewhat of its power. Ellington’s “Solitude” works far better, as Faithfull’s command of sparse phrases drives the tune, expressing more in the spaces between words than the words themselves — or even her voice. Other highlights include an excellent version of Judee Sill’s “The Phoenix,” and a deeply emotive, almost startling cover of Morrissey’s “Dear God Please Help Me. There is a fantastic–if surreal–faux-soul reading of Robinson’s “Ooh Baby Baby,” as a duet with AntonyThe disc closes with Richards adding both his guitar (to those of Ribot and Reynolds) and his raggedy croak of a vocal to Faithfull’s on Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.” It’s sad and slow, but feels more contrived than honestly emotional. While this is a long journey with a couple of missteps Ms. Faithfull shows up in excellent form throughout this offering. If you are patient, there is more than enough here to hold your attention and take you on journeys through love, lust, tragedy, and longing and bring you home again. (by Thom Jurek)

What a strong life, what a strong career, what a strong album !

MarianneFaithfull02Personnel:
Art Baron (trombone)
Steven Bernstein (trumpet. mellophone, glockenspiel)
Rob Burger (organ)
Nick Cave (vocals)
Greg Cohen (bass)
Marty Ehrlich (saxophone, clarinet, flute)
Warren Ellis (violin)
Marianne Faithfull (vocals)
Gil Goldstein (piano)
Antony Hegarty (vocals)
Sean Lennon (guitar)
Chan Marshall (vocals)
Brian Mitchell (organ, piano)
Rob Moose (vocals)
Maxim Moston (violin)
Jenni Muldaur (background vocals)
Michael Nicholas (viola)
JD Parron (clarinet)
Ken Peploski (clarinet)
Lenny Pickett (saxophone, clarinet, sarrusophone, flute)
Cat Power (vocals)
Barry Reynolds (guitar)
Marc Ribot (guitar)
Keith Richards (guitar)
Jane Scarpantoni (cello)
Teddy Thompson (vocals)
Rufus Wainwright (vocals)
Jim White (drums)
Steve Weisberg (piano, celeste)
Doug Wieselman (saxophone, clarinet, flute)

Booklet04ATracklist:
01. Down From Dover (Parton) 4.44
02. Hold On, Hold On (with Cat Power) (Good/Belitsky/Case/Dean) 2.58
03. Solitude (Ellington/De Lange/Mills) 5.25
04. The Crane Wife 3 (with Nick Cave) (Meloy) 3.57
05. Easy Come, Easy Go (Jackson/Brown) 3.14
06. Children Of Stone (with Rufus Wainwright) (Espers) 8.04
07. How Many Worlds, (with Teddy Thompson) (Eno) 3.40
08. In Germany Before The War (Newman) 4.07
09. Ooh Baby Baby (with Antony Hegarty) (Robinson/Moore) 8.16
10. Sing Me Back Home (with Keith Richards) (Haggard) 5.03

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