Faithfull Broken English [album]
Faithfull has proved her
ability to continue to enthral her fans
over the years and she is now preparing
to treat them to those husky vocal
chords with the reissue of her definitive
album Broken English...
EVER SEDUCTIVE AND GUTSY, Marianne Faithfull has transcended from the beautiful
blonde teenaged muse and sweet-voiced siren to an acknowledged talented artiste
with a compelling mix of maturity and girlish charm.
An instant critical and commercial success on its release in late 1979, Marianne's
album Broken English saw her with a new image, an international following,
a Grammy nomination and the confidence to record more of her own compositions.
Marianne has been described as "wild and feral, with a voice ravaged by experience
and betrayal". Certainly she has had more than her fair share of lows, but she
has emerged into a new age.
husky-toned power-ball will surprise those familiar with her early work. Few
comebacks have made such an impression, but she had every reason to want to
return with a vengeance. "I thought I was going to die; that this was my last
chance to make a record," she says, adding that she thought: "F****** hell,
before I die, I'm going to show you b******s who I am." We got the message,
A superb album,
is powerful, heartfelt,
stirring and emotional,
with the provocative
does so well...
Greil Marcus, in his original review of the album for Rolling Stone,
called Marianne's album: "a perfectly intentional, controlled, unique statement
about fury, defeat and rancour. It isn't," he says, "anything we've heard before
from anyone. As far as Faithfull goes, there is gutsiness here, a sense of craft
and a disruptive intelligence that nothing in her old records remotely suggested.
Broken English is a triumph." It is, indeed.
Mojo referred to the album as an emotional fireball. "Marianne had been to hell
and back and knew the value of life. Broken English has the songs to
prove it." It is hardly surprising that Marianne speaks of making the album
as "sort of like therapy". Broken English marks her abandonment of the
past and her enthusiasm to embrace the future.
The title track Broken English is a great track and the perfect song
for Marianne's deliciously husky tones. There's an edge to her singing; rawness,
and a feeling that Marianne invokes power from her soul.
Witches Song is a good, fascinating track and the excellent Brain
Drain has much conviction sung by Marianne. We also particularly liked the
folk-ish The Ballard Of Lucy Jordan, which is quirky and an absolutely
Guilt is equally enjoyable, infused with poignancy and has wonderful
words complemented by fine music; whereas the ever-fresh Working Class Hero
is thought-provoking and expressive. Interesting, raw and cheeky, Why
D'ya Do It? is an experience in itself! Some may find the lyrics offensive.
Much of the material was created on the road in 1978, and it's travelled well.
Producer Mark Miller Munday recognised the potential of Marianne and her band,
paying for them to record some demos that would lead to Marianne's creative
Chris Blackwell was captivated by the demos of Broken English and Why
D'ya Do It? and, with Miller Mundy at the helm, the album was recorded over
a three-week period at Matrix studios in London resulting in the
original 'lost' band sessions recording that have remained in the Island vault
With the record mixed and all but finished, Miller Munday and Marianne decided
to give the album a more experimental new-wave sound. Once the very capable
Steve Winwood had played his part, laying down keyboards and synthesisers, the
album was remixed. This is the production that was released in 1979.
While not literally autobiographical, the songs that make up the album Broken
English are clearly rooted in Marianne's past experiences. Broken English
itself came from a book on the Baader-Meinhof terrorists and had real currency
at a time when bombs were being set off all over the world by the IRA, Basque
Separatists or the Red Brigade.
Marianne sees Witches Song as "my version of sisterhood… my ode to the
wild, pagan women I know and have always had around me." Marianne and her then-husband
Ben Brierly became friends with the songwriter Tim Hardin, which resulted in
the pounding Brain Drain, a Brierly-Hardin collaboration. Guilt
was Barry Reynolds' song about addiction and Marianne's Catholic education and
Maverty's What's The Hurry? about the junkie's never-ending pressure
Critics expressed surprise at Marianne recording Lennon's Working Class Hero
but she confidently supports her choice, declaring: "I wasn't working class,
but we were poor and this process he describes, it happens to everybody."
For Marianne, Shel Silverstein's Ballad Of Lucy Jordan "is me if my life
had taken a different turn" and on hearing Why D'Ya Do It? Marianne immediately
recognised that the shocking words echoed her own "Heartrending turmoil and
Even today, the lyrics can still shock and at the time EMI initially refused
to distribute the album, and the song was banned in Australia, where the album
was pressed without Why D'Ya Do It?.
Today pop videos are an essential promotional tool, but it was a long time ago
that Marianne commissioned the avant-garde film-maker Derek Jarman to direct
a short film featuring three songs: Witches Song, The Ballad Of Lucy
Jordan and Broken English. Initially shown in cinemas before the
main feature, the film gets its first commercial release with this set.
A cauldron bubbling with "indelible images of dark pagan ritual, sex, romance,
loneliness, violence and mystery", the film is infused with the sort of punk
aesthetic Jarman brought to Jubilee a bold statement that
perfectly matched the world Marianne had created in her songs and it is widely
acknowledged as one of the finest pop videos Jarman ever made.
Over thirty years from its original release, Broken English has been
reconfigured as a new edition with two different versions and the album is bolstered
with bonus material. Listening to the tracks now, it is clear why it has been
hailed as being properly restored to the front rank of 1970s music. A superb
album, Broken English is powerful, heartfelt, stirring and emotional,
dished up with the provocative sauciness Marianne Faithfull does so well.
in luxury packaging, Marianne Faithfull's definitive album Broken English
reinforces her style metamorphosis from sweet-voiced wistful teenager to husky-voiced
sophistication and this Deluxe Edition is released by UMC/Island on 28 January
CD1: 1 Broken English | 2 Witches Song | 3 Brain Drain
| 4 Guilt | 5 The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan | 6 What's The Hurry?
| 7 Working Class Hero | 8 Why D'ya Do It? | Short Film: Witches
Song, The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan and Broken English.
CD2: 1 Broken English (Original Mix) | 2 Witches Song (Original
Mix) | 3 Brain Drain (Original Mix) | 4 Guilt (Original Mix) |
5 The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan (Original Mix) | 6 What's The Hurry?
(Original Mix) | 7 Working Class Hero (Original Mix) | 8 Why D'ya
Do It? (Original Mix) | 9 Sister Morphine | 10 Broken English
(7" Single) | 11 Broken English (7" Remix Version | 12 Broken
English (12" Remix) | 13 Why D'ya Do It? (12" Remix).
Check out mariannefaithfull.org.uk.
"A superb album, Broken English is powerful, heartfelt, stirring and
emotional, dished up with the provocative sauciness Marianne Faithfull does
so well" Maggie Woods, MotorBar