Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Marianne Faithful - Broken English/Strange Weather


I bought this double CD for Broken English, which was part of the soundtrack to my high school years and which everybody (except me) owned in 1980.  The singles - The Ballad of Lucy Jordan and the title track - were also much-played on the jukebox of the bar I frequented with work collegues, my first year out of high school.  And when I look at the album cover it's Lucy that runs through my head.

In fact, I bought the CD as a birthday present for myself, the year I turned 37.  Although I haven't yet, like her, dashed my hopes of driving through Paris in a sports car, with the warm wind in my hair.  Although I'd be hoping for a Parisian driver, as every time I've been in Paris I've been convinced the drivers there are protected by some kind of force field not available to mere mortals like myself.

As for the rest of the album, I love Brain Drain "you go on and on/ Like a bloodstain" and Guilt, plus her terrrific version of John Lennon's Working Class Hero.  And of course there's the oh-so-shocking  Why D'Ya Do It? which as I recall was banned in Australia when the album first came out (it has the C-word in it along with some pretty graphic sexual imagery) and even now I'm sure would raise an eyebrow or two.

The other album, Strange Weather, isn't really my kind of thing, as it's more a nod to Brecht and Weill - kind of modern Cabaret.  But Broken English?



Unlike dear Mine, I'm not at all familiar with Broken English (the album).  But I do remember Broken English (the song) and The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan.  The lyrics to the latter always stuck me as sad and desperate, something I never wanted to be at any age.  It also makes a great case for believing you are never too old to do something new, which is a personal philosophy of mine.

I have to concede Broken English has a lot going for it, from the iconic cover art through to the album tracks I'd not heard before.  Her version of Lennon's Working Class Hero is a stunning retelling while the controversial Why D'ya Do It is awesomely vitriolic and still packs a powerful punch.

The second half of this collection, Strange Weather, could best be described as cabaret for the seriously depressed.  Small relief comes from a few tracks, specifically Sign Of Judgement, Love Life And Money and her cover of the Stones classic, As Tears Go By, which she imbues with a heavy melancholia. (Mine says: Marianne actually had the first chart success with this tune in '64 before the Stones did their own version in '65, so this is a cover of her own version to be persnickety - as I often am)

So, is it really two albums for the price of one?  For me, it isn't but it's certainly worth the cost for Broken English alone.


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