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Marianne Faithfull


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce alternative pop/rock, sometimes with ambient, blues, and/or cabaret influences

Status:

Most recent release, Horses and High Heels (2011)

See also:

Marianne Faithfull's site

Comparisons:

An original

Covers/own material:

Cowritten songs and covers

General comments:

Marianne Faithfull's voice may be considered weak by some and by others to show how much she's gone through over the years, but I find her delivery totally individual and powerful. She began as a waif-like folksinger in the '60s and re-emerged in the late '70s as a raspy-voiced powerhouse. Since then she has done Kurt Weill/Bertholdt Brecht type cabaret music, ambient sounds. Quite a range of material all of which she makes her own. (Neile)

I loved her first three albums passionately, way back then. When she returned in the '80s with Broken English I cringed at the Tom Waits-like voice she had decayed into. (mp@moonmac.com)

Although Marianne doesn't get a whole lot of ecto-mentions, she's definitely an ectoish artist, who's still stretching her artistic boundaries—probably doing some of the most interesting stuff of her career in the past few years. (jjhanson@att.net)

Recommended first album:

Try any of the compilations (A Perfect Stranger is highly recommended) to begin. For individual albums I adore Broken English, and A Secret Life, her collaboration with Angelo Badalamenti is an ecto favourite. (Neile)

Recordings include:


Broken English

Release info:

1979—Island—CIDM-9570

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Marianne Faithfull

Guest artists:

Diane Birch, Frankie Collins, Jim Cuomo, Guy Humphries, Joe Mavety, Maurice Pert, Barry Reynolds, Terry Stannard, Darryl Way, Steve Winwood, Steve York, Isabella Dulaney

Produced by:

Mark Miller Mundy

Comments:

This is the first "alternative" album I ever heard and it blew me away. I still love it. "Broken English," "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," "Working Class Hero," and of course "Why D'Ya Do It" are classics. This is a wonderful collection which stands the test of time. Raw, edgy, and full of life. There's nothing quite like it. (Neile)

Dangerous Acquaintances

Release info:

1981—Island—IMCD 205 842 483-2

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Marianne Faithfull

Guest artists:

Jo Mavety, Barry Reynolds, Terry Stannard, Steve York, and Frankie Collins, Mel Collins, Julian Diggle, Martin Drover, Dennis Haines, Neil Hubbard, Jim Leverton, Clifton Morrison, Fuzzy Samuels, Dyane Spenner, Chris Stainton, Pickford Sykes, Peter Veitch, Steve Winwood

Produced by:

Mark Miller Mundy

Comments:

This is certainly one of the most radio-friendly of Marianne Faithfull's albums and is full of delightful, catchy songs that I'm sure would have wide appeal if this album were better-known. Classic Marianne Faithfull of this era, and highly recommended if you can find it. I think it's every bit as good as (and perhaps better overall than) A Child's Adventure. (Neile)

A Child's Adventure

Release info:

1983—Island—7 90066-2

Availability:

A little difficult to find but not impossible; probably easier to find in the U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Marianne Faithfull—vocals

Guest artists:

Terry Stannard—drums
Fernando Saunders—bass
Wally Badarou—keyboards, vocals
Barry Reynolds—guitar, vocals
Mikey Chung—guitar
Ben Brierly—acoustic guitar, vocals
Rafael de Jesus—percussion

Produced by:

Wally Badarou, Barry Reynolds & Harvey Goldberg

Comments:

An album full of delightful songs, like "The Blue Millionaire" and "Falling from Grace", and haunting songs like "Times Square" and "Ashes in My Hand". (Neile)

Strange Weather

Release info:

1987—Island—422-842-593-2

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Recommended for certain tastes (see comments)

Comments:

This is aptly described as "Marianne Faithfull takes up where Lotte Lenya and Marlene Dietrich leave off". Recommended if the idea of blue angel blues sound good to you. (Neile)

Blazing Away (live)

Release info:

1990—Island—842794-2

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

High for anyone who likes Marianne Faithfull

Group members:

Marianne Faithfull—vocals

Guest artists:

Dougie Brown—drums
Garth Hudson—accordion, keyboards
Mac Rebennak (Dr. John)—piano, rhythm guitar
Barry Reynolds—guitar, backing vocals; guitar on "Blazing Away"
Marc Ribot—guitar
Fernando Saunders—bass, backing vocals; bass, rhythm guitar, backing vocals on "Blazing Away"
Lew Soloff—trumpet, flugelhorn Don Alias—percussion on "Blazing Away"
Charlie Drayton—drums on "Blazing Away"
Kevin Savangar—keyboards on "Blazing Away"
Big Wharton—pedal steel guitar on "Blazing Away"

Produced by:

Hal Willner, except "Blazing Away", produced by Hal Hillner, Fernando Saunders

Comments:

All except "Blazing Away" recorded live November 25 and 26, 1989 at St. Anne's Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY. It's a collection of songs from the length of her career, including "As Tears Go By", "She Moved Through the Fair", "Broken English" and "Times Square". In the liner notes she calls it a portrait of her life at the time, and it does seem one. Recommended. (Neile)

A Secret Life

Release info:

1994—Island—314-524 096-2

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of Marianne Faithfull or of ambient music

Group members:

Marianne Faithfull—vocals

Guest artists:

Angelo Badalamenti—keyboards, composition, orchestration, and conducting
Kinny Landrum—keyboards
Sam Meredino, Gordon Gottlieb—drums, percussion
Vinnie Bell—guitars, mandolin
Carmine D'Amico—guitar
Mark Ega, Rob DeVito, Rufus Reid—basses
Andre Badalamenti—clarinets
Al Regni, Pamela Sklar, Lawrence Feldman—flute and alto flute
Shelley Woodworth, Sherry Sylar—oboe and oboe d'amore
Robert Carlisle—French horn
Gene Orloff—violin
Al Brown, Julien Barber, Richard Sortomme, Lamar Alsop, Ann Barak, Mitsue Takayama, Kenneth Fricker, Juliet Haffner, Harry Zaratzian, Mary Helen Ewing, Sue Pray, Caroline Levine—violas
Frederick Zlotkin, Clay Ruede, Beverly Lauridsen, Julie Green, Richard Locker, Mark Shuman—cellos

Produced by:

Angelo Badalamenti

Comments:

I sure do like her. This one is basically her lyrics with music by Angelo Badalamenti—the guy who wrote the Twin Peaks and Julee Cruise music. I like this combination!! My only problem is that the cd seems a little short.... Anyway—check it out if you've liked Marianne in the past. I currently love a song called "The Wedding" which follows a relationship from beginnings to beyond death. She also included lyrics from Dante (yeah, that hell, heaven, purgatory guy) and Willie the Shake (the end bit from The Tempest). (brad@lightfallsdesign.com)

I don't listen to this nearly often enough, but it's wonderful—Marianne in a dreamy collaboration. Her voice really shines (can you say that about a voice so raspy?) in this context. A delightful album. (Neile)

As a Twin Peaks junkie and lover of Julee Cruise's albums I had to get this and did. Loved it! It is good to be able to love Marianne Faithfull again. A Secret Life sounds like a Parisienne chanteuse in a smoky cafe in the '40s. Especially the smoky part. This is wonderful. The musical score by Angelo Badalamanti works perfectly. Great pair. (mp@moonmac.com)

Faithfull and collaborator Angelo Badalamenti were made for each other. Her voice and lyrics, world weary but not defeated, blend perfectly with his melodies and orchestration. Kurt Weill meets Sylvia Plath in group therapy to create a solemn blast of ravaged beauty. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

Much has been written about this album and it's all true. The combination Badalamenti/Faithfull is a match made in heaven. (marcel@kimwilde.com)

When I bought it I found myself unable to take it out of the CD player. Great music to listen to on cloudy, foggy days. I think Marianne Faithful's voice is a much better match to Badalamenti's music than Julee Cruise's. Definitely ecto-fodder. (jjhanson@att.net)


20th Century Blues

Release info:

1997—BMG/RCA VICTOR

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Recommended only for fans of Kurt Weill-type songs

Comments:

A live album, recorded in Paris, with 'classics' by the likes of Brecht/Weil: "Alabama song", "Mack the Knife", also "Boulevard of broken dreams". Piano and double bass I think, and Marianne's broken voice which sounds really ugly to my ears on this album. It suits the songs but I don't like it. (Marion)

This album, primarily of Kurt Weill songs, recorded live with just piano accompaniment, shows Marianne Faithfull at her best—dramatic interpretations of songs. This album includes the best "Pirate Jenny" I've heard—you can actually believe that Faithfull could be friends of pirates. Not an album I'd ever play a lot, but interesting nonetheless. (jjhanson@att.net)


A Perfect Stranger (compilation)

Release info:

1998

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for an overview of her career

Comments:

I can't recommend the A Perfect Stranger compilation highly enough. One of the best career retrospectives I've heard (even though it doesn't showcase many of her early songs). This double CD compilation album of her hits during the Island years is an excellent compilation featuring some great songs. Much better than the previous singles album best of, though all those tracks are included here as well. (jjhanson@att.net)

Vagabond Ways

Release info:

2000—Instinct Records/It Records—INS515-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Marianne Faithfull fans

Group members:

Marianne Faithfull—vocals

Guest artists:

Barry Reynolds—guitars, slide guitar, tremolo guitar, bass, piano
Victor Indrizzo—infinit guitar
Glen Patscha—piano, synth, organbass pedals, vibes, keys, Moog bass pedals, Wurlitzer, string arrangement
Brian Blade—drums, percussion
Christopher Thomas—bass, fuzz bass, double bass
Daryl Johnson—backing vocals
Michael Cheaves—acoustic guitars, electric guitars
Danny Frankel—drums, percussion
Roger Waters—bass synth
Daryl Johnson—synth filler
Mark Howard—synth filler, loop, percussion
Novi Novog—viola
Stephanie File—cello
Emmylou Harris—backing vocals
Daniel Lanois—guitars, organs, bass, percussion, drums, loop

Produced by:

Mark Howard

Comments:

I have to say I quite like it. She co-wrote a few of the songs with Daniel Lanois and one song features Emmylou Harris on backup vocals. Overall, it's no big departure for her—but the songs are great and very appropriate to her personality. Great, moody collection of material that is ideally suited for Marianne's world-weary voice. However, it just didn't do as much for me as some of her other releases. (jjhanson@att.net)

While what Marianne Faithfull is doing these days doesn't affect me as strongly as, say, Broken English, I still really like her voice and her interpretations of songs. This is a good album, and a welcome addition to our Marianne Faithfull collection. And as Jeff Hanson says above, the songs are very appropriate to her personality. (Neile)


Kissin' Time

Release info:

2002

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Marianne Faithfull—vocals

Guest artists:

Beck—guitar, synthesizer, percussion, background vocals
Billy Corgan—guitar, keyboards, bass, programming, background vocals
Damon Albarn—guitar, keyboards, bass
Barry Reynolds—guitar, bass, programming
Dave Stewart—guitar, bass
Smokey Hormel, Mark Webber, Edith Fambuena—guitar
Jon Brion—celeste, pump organ, chamberlain, keyboards, drums
Ned Douglas—keyboards, programming
Jarvis Cocker—keyboards
Justin-Medal Johnson, Steve Mackey—bass

Produced by:

Producers include Beck, Etienne Daho, Billy Corgan, Dave Stewart, Jarvis Cocker

Comments:

Marianne Faithfull came out with a much overlooked album of great pop songs, written alongside the likes of Dave Stewart and Billy Corgan—lots of great rock/pop/dance songs, though not as cohesive as some of her earlier releases. (jjhanson@att.net)

Further info:

I personally am very fond of her singing in "The Hawk (El Gavilan)", from the movie Trouble in Mind. This work was written by Kris Kristofferson, arranged by Mark Isham, and sung by Marianne Faithful; talk about a triple whammy! Marianne's singing is torchy-bluesy-ectoish, Mark Isham does his wonder thing on the trumpet, and The Raincity Industrial Art Ensemble rounds it all out with some good percussion and synth work. And the lyrics are very insightful as well. A good piece of music all in all, and one that has always meant a lot to me musically and poetically. (bill@wagill.com)

Horses and High Heels

Release info:

2011

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

Stupid album cover but good album, recorded in New Orleans, that has that bluesy vibe very suited to Marianne's voice. (jjhanson@att.net)

Further info:

I personally am very fond of her singing in "The Hawk (El Gavilan)", from the movie Trouble in Mind. This work was written by Kris Kristofferson, arranged by Mark Isham, and sung by Marianne Faithful; talk about a triple whammy! Marianne's singing is torchy-bluesy-ectoish, Mark Isham does his wonder thing on the trumpet, and The Raincity Industrial Art Ensemble rounds it all out with some good percussion and synth work. And the lyrics are very insightful as well. A good piece of music all in all, and one that has always meant a lot to me musically and poetically. (bill@wagill.com)

Compilation work includes:

  • "Something Better" on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1996)
  • a live version of "Spike Driver Blues" on The Harry Smith Project: Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited (2006)
Collaborations include:

  • 13 tracks on Michael Mantler's album Many Have No Speech (1987)
  • "Wieder im Gefangnis with Tony Coe on his album Les voix d'Itxassou (1990)
  • "Love Is Teasin'" with The Chieftains on their album The Long Black Veil (1995)
  • "Without Blame" with Ismaël Lo on his albums Jamma Africa (1997) and The Balladeer: The Best of Ismaël Lo (2002)
  • "Les liens d'Eros" with &Eactue;tienne Daho on his albums Réévolution (2003) and Monsieur Daho (2011)
  • "Lola R. for Ever" with Robbie Shakespeare and Sly Dunbar on Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited (2006)
  • "A Lean and Hungry Look" with Ulysse on the Truands soundtrack (2007)
  • "Who Will Take My Dreams Away" with Angelo Badalamenti on The City of Lost Children soundtrack (1996) and on his album Music for Film and Television (2010)
Tributes include:

  • Jeffrey Clark has a song called "Marianne Faithfull" on his album Sheer Golden Hooks (1996)
  • Pat Gorman has a song called "Marianne Faithfull Tuesday" on his album Contempt (2002)
  • Kate Simpkins has a song called "Marianne Faithfull" on her album Tilt (2005)
  • white wrench conservatory has a song called "Marianne Faithfull" on their self-titled album (2008)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2012-01-22 02:21:10.
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