This year marks fifty years since the 17-year old Marianne Faithfull was spotted at a party by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and a mere three months later found herself having a hit with a cover of the Stones’ ‘As Tears Go By.’ The ups and downs and fictionalisations of the following fifty years have been well-documented, but it’s not just the fact that she’s had an impressive biography, she’s released some damn fine records, too.
Unless you’re one of those cynics constantly snarling ‘so what?’ at absolutely bloody everything, the list of collaborators involved with the making of her twentieth studio album is nothing less than staggering, even before you’ve heard a note of the music. Lyrical collaborators include Nick Cave, Roger Waters, Steve Earle, and Anna Calvi, while musical contributors include Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt, and the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis and Jim Sclavunos.
Of course, the best ingredients in the world won’t necessarily add up to make a fine meal if it’s done badly. The good news is that the main star here is Ms Faithfull herself and this is a fine, fine album. If you’ve ever heard ‘Why D’Ya Do It?’ from her undisputed masterpiece, 1979′s Broken English, you know that she can do anger – and that’s shown here again on ‘Sparrows Will Sing’ and ‘Mother Wolf’ with her railing against the state of the world. The title track is ambiguous – ‘paradise to hell’ with a love of the city and yet it’s a city lit by the light of the moon and riot fire.
The involvement of no less than three of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds here casts a spell over the album, and to these ears, the finest tracks are the beautiful ‘Deep Water’ which they co-wrote and Cave’s song ‘Late Victorian Holocaust’ which he wrote for her. And the final, closing cover of ‘I Get Along Without you Very Well’ is simply heartbreaking (I can’t find any record of her having recorded ‘If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)’ but I’d love to hear her do it).
The mark of any fine record is the fact that a) I started to listen to it again as soon as I had finished playing it and b) even though I was sent this, I’d be happy to spend my own money on this album.
Give My Love To London is released by Dramatico on September 29.