Marianne Faithfull

Band members                             Related acts

- Marianne Faithfull -- vocals 


  supporting musicians (1987)

- Sharon Freeman -- keyboards


- Bill Frisell -- guitar

- Garth Hudson -- accordion

- Chris Hunter -- sax. flute

- Michael Levine -- violin

- J.T. Lewis -- drums

- Robert Quine -- guitar

- Mac Rebenneck -- keyboards

- Fernando Saunders -- bass

- William Schimmel -- accordion

- Steve Slagle -- sax

- Lew Soloff -- trumpet




- Barry Reynolds (solo efforts)



Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Faithless

Company: NEMS

Catalog: NEL 6012

Year: 1978

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): NM / NM

Comments: still in shrink wrap; UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5607

Price: $20.00


It's funny but today there are several reference works that don't even acknowledge Marianne Faithfull's pre-"Broken English" catalog.  That's not to say her earlier work is great, rather it's just kind of odd given she's been recording since the mid-1960s.




Released by the small NEMS label, 1977 saw the release of "Dreaming My Dreams" (NEMS catalog number NEL 6007).   It marked Faithfull's first album in almost a decade. 








Backed by The Grease Band, the twelve tracks found Faithful working with a series of four producers, unexpectedly exploring country and western material.  While the musical direction may have come as somewhat of a surprise, the real shocker was the condition of Faithfull's voice.  Her little girl croon was never the world's greatest instrument, but over the ensuing decade the combination of hard living, including nasty cocaine and heroin habits, coupled with a wide array of medical issues including an eating disorder had taken a severe toll on her always limited voice.  Exemplified by material like the title track and 'Wait for Me Down By the River' (which may have been selected for it's autobiographical plotline), Faithfull's voice now sounded like a cross between a force five tornado and a cracked mirror.  In spite of considerable in-studio work to smooth out her performances, the fact that many of these songs seemed highly personal ('The Way You Want Me To Be' and 'Wrong Road Again') made for a harrowing ride.  The goofy thing is that it made for a rewarding experience.  You quickly got accustomed to Faithfull's croaking voice and their was definitely something invigorating in being able to survive the experience.  To be fair, several of these songs were actually surprisingly commercial - her cover of Jackie DeShannon's 'Vanilla O'Lay' and the reggae-tinged All I Wanna Do In Life' could have been hit singles *the latter was released as a 45), while the Faithfull original 'Lady Madelaine' was a haunting ballad.  For some odd reason the album topped the charts in Ireland, though it did nothing in the UK and didn't even see a US release.  NEMS also tapped the album for a series of three UK and Irish singles: 


- 1975's 'Dreamin' My Dreams' b/w 'Lady Madelaine' (NEMS catalog number NES 004)

- 1976's 'All I Wanna Do In Life' b/w 'Wrong Road Again' (NEMS catalog number NES 013)

- 1976's 'The Way You Want Me To Be' b/w 'That was the Day (Nashville)' (NEMS catalog number NES 117)


In an odd marketing decision in 1978 NEMS decided to reissue the LP in a slightly different format.  Retitled "Faithless" the album given a new, slightly more healthy looking Faithfull cover photo and four of the original songs were replaced with new selections.  Deleted from the original album were:


- 'Fairy Tale Hero'
- 'I'm Looking For Blue Eyes'
- 'Somebody Loves You'
- 'Sweet Little Sixteen'


Added to "Faithless" were:


- 'Wait for Me Down By the River' 

- 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight'

- 'That was the Day (Nashville)'

- 'Honky Tonk Angel'


"Faithless" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Dreamin' My Dreams   (Allen Reynolds) - 

2.) Vanilla O'Lay   (Jackie DeShannon) - 

3.) Wait for Me Down By the River   (Bob Johnson) - 

4.) I'll Be Your Baby Tonight   (Bob Dylan) - 

5.) Lady Madelaine   (Marianne Faithfull - Bill Landis - B. Shepherd) -  

6.) All I Wanna Do In Life   (Allen Reynolds - Sandy Mason Theoret) - 

(side 2)

1.) The Way You Want Me To Be   (D. Price - T. Kelly) - 

2.) Wrong Road Again   (Allen Reynolds) - 

3.) That was the Day (Nashville)   (Marianne Faithfull) - 

4.) This Time   (Waylon Jennings) - 

5.) I'm Not Lisa   (Jessi Colter) - 

6.) Honky Tonk Angel   (Miller) - 



For anyone interested Faithfull has a nice website at:




Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Broken English

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS 9570

Year: 1976

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $15.00


In the wake of her marriage to musician Ben Brierley, Faithfull returned to the studio determined to launch a full scale comeback. Inspired in part by the ongoing punk revolution, she recorded several demos, attracting the attention of Chris Blackwell and Island Records. Released in 1979, "Broken English" was an amazing comeback; possible one of the year's best efforts. While years of neglect had all but destroyed her voice (most of the album was sung in an almost painful growl), the collection showcased Faithfull as a true survivor. Thanks in part to a sizeable assist from Steve Winwood, musically the album featured a striking combination of punk posturing and mainstream rock (check out her stark cover of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero"). While all eight tracks deserved to be heard, particularly the ominous title track and "Brain Drain," the collection's most stunning effort was the X-rated "Why D'Ya Do It". Seen by many as a scorching message to Jagger, the song's steaming fury was enough to melt your turntable. Accompanied by strong critical reviews (albeit little airplay), the album reached #80.

"Broken English" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Broken English   (Marianne Faithfull - Barry Reynolds) - 4:35
2.) Witches' Song   (Marianne Faithfull - Barry Reynolds) - 4:43
3.) Brain Drain   (Ben Brierley) - 4:13
4.) Guilt   (Barry Reynolds) - 5:05

(side 2)

1.) The Ballad of Lucy Jordan   (Shel Silverstein) - 4:09
2.) What's the Hurry   (Joe Maverty) - 3:05
3.) Working Class Hero   (John Lennon) - 4:40
4.) Why D'ya Do It   (Heathcote Williams - Joe Maverty - Steve York - Terry Stannard - Marianne Faithfull - Barry Reynolds) -


YouTube has a couple of related video clips:

'Broken English'

'The Ballad of Lucy Jordan'

'Why D'ya Do It'




Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Strange Weather

Company: Island

Catalog: 90613

Year: 1987

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $15.00


It took me a couple of years to recover from 1975's "Broken English."  As a 16 year old I had never encountered an album that was as raw and outright frightening as Marianne Faithfull's comeback.  Faithfull's dry, crackling, ravaged voice spread across an album brimming with frustration and  fury was pretty intense for a kid who liked top-40 rock,  That may explain why "Strange Weather" sat in my "to-listen-to" pile for years.  If anything, the album looked like it was going to be even tougher than "Broken English" and I wondered why I wanted to subject myself to another chapter of audio trauma.  


The album's genesis is interesting.  A couple of years earlier Faithfull had recorded a cover of Bertolt Brecht's 'Ballad of the Soldier's Wife' for a Kurt Weill tribute album - "Lost In the Stars."  The late producer Hal Willner heard the album and was taken by Faithfull's performance; leading him to suggest an album of classic covers.  It took two years for Faithfull to come around to the project, though in her defense, during that timeframe she was trying to overcome a long term heroin problem.


Produced by Willner, the concept was clearly to portray the mature Faithfull as a classic chanteuse.  The original concept of Weill-influenced cabaret tracks was expanded to include country-blues and a couple of more modern tracks, including the Dylan cover and a Dr. John cover ('Hello Stranger').  Not exactly known as Mr. Happy Face, Tom Waits contributed the dark and tragic title track which has gone on to become a Faithfull concert staple.   This isn't a genre that does much for me, so I can't say I particularly appreciated, or enjoyed most of the twelve selections.  At the same time I'll admit Faithfull's sandpaper performances were consistently impressive.  How many artists would be willing to record an a cappella track like her cover of Leadbelly's 'I Ain't Going Down To the Well No More'?  Other highlights came in the form of her Dylan cover (a lysergic-drenched 'I'll Keep It with Mine') and a nifty take on Henry Glover's 'Love Life and Money.'  Faithfull's voice remained an acquired taste and to be blunt, nothing here was going to make you get up and party like it was 1999.  It was also a collection you probably wanted to hide away if you had a friend, or partner with depressive tendencies.    


"Strange Weather" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Stranger Intro (instrumental)   (Bill Frisell) - 0:32  rating: ** stars

Written by and featuring Bill Frisell on guitar, the brief instrumental 'Stranger Intro' was an interesting way to start the album - dark and mildly foreboding.  What was next?

2.) Boulevard of Broken Dreams  (Al Dubin - Harry Warren) - 3:04   rating: *** stars

Dubin and Warren penned the song in the mid-'30s and Deane Janis and Hal Kemp's Orchestra enjoyed a hit with their cover.  Yeah, it's dark and surprisingly risqué for the timeframe.  Faithfull's croaking voice is the perfect tool for capturing he tune's world weary vibe.  I doubt you'll be hearing this one at your local disco.

3.) I Ain't Going Down To the Well No More  (Huddie "Ledbelly" Ledbetter - Alan Lomax - John Avery Lomax) - 1:07   rating: *** stars

Wow, I wasn't expecting to hear an a capella version of this one.  The surprising thing is Faithfull sounded surprisingly impressive on the track.  Yeah, her voice was an acquired taste, but her strength and determination came through in flying colors.

4.) Yesterdays  (Jerome Kern - Otto Harbach) - 5:20   rating: *** stars

Pretty, spare, and atmospheric, 'Yesterdays' aptly captured the chanteuse aspects of her voice.  This was the kind of tune you'd want to put on when you'd just lost your job; your wife had run off with the mailman and your dogs after she crashed your SUV into a FedEx truck.  Not to be confused with the Beatles cover a much younger Faithfull recorded back in 1965.

5.) Sign of Judgment   (Kid Prince Moore) - 2:54   rating: *** stars

Surrounded by a stark country-blues arrangement Faithfull sounded surprisingly good on her cover of the Kid Prince Moore classic  'Sign of Judgment.'   The track was also released as an Australian 45:





- 1987's 'Sign of Judgment' b/w 'Penthouse Serenade' (Island catalog number K-453)








6.) Strange Weather   (Tom Waits - Kathleen Brennan) - 4:05   rating: *** stars

Penned specifically for Faithfull by Waits, 'Strange Weather' fit the dark, foggy atmosphere perfectly.  Bill Frisell on lead guitar. 

(side 2)

1.) Love Life and Money   (Julus Dixon - Henry Glover) - 4:40   rating: **** stars

Much to my surprise, kicked along by Mac Rebenneck's barrelhouse piano, Faithfull's blues cover of 'Love Life and Money' stood as one of the album highlights. There was just something endearing in her world-weary delivery.

2.) I'll Keep It with Mine   (Bob Dylan) - 4:13   rating: **** stars

Faithfull's cold, distant delivery was surprisingly apt for her Dylan cover (her performance was certainly warmer than Nico's version).  Kudos to Bill Frisell and Robert Quine for the nifty lysergic drenched jangle guitars that kicked the song along.

3.) Hello Stranger   (Doc Pomus - Mac Rebennack) - 2:30  rating: *** stars

If you've ever heard the Barbara Lewis, or Yvonne Elliman versions of this song, you're liable to find Faithfull's molten cover unrecognizable.  Slowing the tune down to a crawl and delivering the lyrics with a threatening edge, you wouldn't want to piss her off in a dark alley.

4.) Penthouse Serenade  (Will Jason - Val Burton) - 2:34  rating: ** stars

The album's least attractive performance, 'Penthouse Serenade' surrounded Faithfull with a forgettable big band arrangement.  

5.) As Tears Go By   (Mick Jagger - Keith Richards - Andrew Loog Oldham) -- 3:42   rating: **** stars

The album's oddest selection - I've always wondered why Faithfull  elected to re-record her 1964 hit.  Sure the arrangement was markedly different and Faithfull's voice reflected the ravages of time, but what was the point?  Even odder, it somehow worked.  I was never a fan of the original's throwaway pop feel.  That's all ancient history on the remake.  Island tapped the remake as a single and even released a promotional video: Marianne Faithfull - As Tears Go By (Official Music Video) - YouTube





- 1987's 'As Tears Go By' b/w 'Trouble In Mind (The Return)' (Island catalog number IS 313)







6.) A Stranger On Earth   (Sid Feller - Rick Ward) - 3:56   rating: *** stars

I think the Dinah Washington version serves as the standard for this one.  Faithfull's fierce take was credible, but kind of an odd way to close out the album.