Music Throwback Saturday: Broken English

Marianne Faithfull has been constantly reinventing herself musically for over 50 years.

Marianne_FaithfullNear the end of the run of those Warner Brothers Loss Leaders I used to buy, the eclectic music went from TWO to THREE whole dollars for a double album (LP) set.

The Troublemakers collection in 1980, which proved to be the last iteration for over a decade, featured groups such as the Sex Pistols and Devo. As Dustbury put it, “This is as punk as Burbank would get.”

Here’s the description of one artist: “MARIANNE FAITHFULL may not be a new recording artist but what she’s up to these days is definitely not ‘As Tears Go By.'” She “remains very enigmatic, very British and very with it. The intensity of her Broken English LP is as unprecedented as it is surprising, and the record is every bit as good as its press makes it out to be.

Her Wikipedia article notes her music career, and her highly publicized romance with Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger. “She co-wrote ‘Sister Morphine’, which is featured on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album,” and even recorded it [LISTEN], but had a legal battle to keep the writing credit.

Graham Nash says his song Carrie Anne by the Hollies was about Faithfull and the Beatles’ 1966 song “And Your Bird Can Sing” from the Revolver album may have been written about her as well.

But the “hip Swinging London scene” she shared with Jagger had its definite downside:

She was found wearing only a fur rug by police executing a drug search at [Keith] Richards’ house in West Wittering, Sussex. In an interview 27 years later…, Faithfull discussed her wilder days and admitted that the…incident had ravaged her personal life: “It destroyed me. To be a male drug addict and to act like that is always enhancing and glamorising. A woman in that situation becomes a slut and a bad mother”.

“Severe laryngitis, coupled with persistent drug abuse” in the early 1970s “permanently altered Faithfull’s voice, leaving it cracked and lower in pitch.”

The album Broken English, although not a massive commercial hit – #57 in the UK album charts and #82 in the US – was, as suggested, was critically acclaimed. Faithfull calls it “the masterpiece.”

Marianne Faithfull has been constantly reinventing herself musically for over 50 years. Despite some health issues, including breast cancer in 2006, she has persevered. “In September 2014, Faithfull released an album of all-new material, titled Give My Love to London.”

As Tears Go By (1964), the Jagger/Richards composition she recorded before the Rolling Stones did. It went to #9 in the UK, #22 in the US. LISTEN to it HERE (TV performance, introduced by Brian Epstein) or HERE (another TV show); rerecording HERE.

Now LISTEN to the title track from the album Broken English (1979) HERE or HERE (12″ long version).

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Music Throwback Saturday: Broken English”

  1. It’s an astonishing piece of work, and it cuts no one any slack — especially in the closer, “Why D’Ya Do It,” which would be almost as abrasive if it had no “dirty words” at all.

    Still, my favorite Faithfull track is “Summer Nights,” from 1965, another case of American and British labels disagreeing on which take should be considered the hit single.

    This is the “correct” version from London 9780: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mVpD0sKKys

  2. What’s odd to me about many of these Throwback posts is that they remind me how there were folks I didn’t give much of a thought to at the time, but later on I grow to like. That was true of Marianne Faithful. I remember her version of “As Tears Go By”, and I liked it, but by the later years, I didn’t. Then, I did. Yeah, odd.

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