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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 225 - 01/05/15

Marianne Faithfull
Give My Love to London
Dramatico, Naïve Records, Easy Sound Recording Company

'Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful! Joyful and triumphant,
Born the Queen of Angels...
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
All Hail! Lady, we greet Thee,
O come, let us adore her...'
("Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful!", edited/revised)

Give My Love to London marked several points in the life and career of artist, singer and songwriter Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull broke through in 1964, with her first version of The Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By" (penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, along with producer Andrew Loog Oldham, who was their manager at the time). Fifty years later, the lady still is vital and relevant. In addition, Give My Love to London is her 20th solo album. It is a kiss of love to her hometown, London. As usual, she has made an album with more than a little help from a long line of friends and players.

Give My Love to London was released in the UK on September 29th. In the USA and in Canada it wasn't issued until November 10th. So... we're not that late with this little review. Marianne has written most of the album's lyrics. Musically she has collaborated with Anna Calvi, Brian Eno, Nick Cave, Roger Waters, Tom McRae, Steve Earle, Ed Harcourt, Patrick Leonard, Ben Christophers, plus others. Including The Everly Brothers, as she's doing their 1965 hit "The Price of Love" - re-worked together with English artist and composer Anna Calvi and English musician/producer Rob Ellis (who has been PJ Harvey's steady drummer, and sometimes producer). Well, this "Price of Love"... it isn't my favourite on this album (asking me, it's a mistake). The album was produced by the already mentioned Ellis along with Frenchman Dimitri Tikovoï (who has worked with artists/bands as diverse as Placebo, John Cale, Goldfrapp, The Horrors, Sophie Ellis-Bextor... to name but a few), and it was mixed by Flood. Most of the listed song-writing collaborators contribute to the performance of the songs. Even Eno, briefly, on backing vocals. However, no Cave was in here. Only in spirit (of the songs). Players count: Mick Jones (of The Clash), Warren Ellis (of Dirty Three, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Grinderman), Jim Sclavunos (of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Grinderman), Son Of Dave (a.k.a. Benjamin Darvill, formerly of Crash Test Dummies), and Adrian Utley (formerly of Portishead). To name a few. By going through her back catalogue, you will bump into most names from the world of pop, rock, folk music.

Give My Love to London clocks in at a little less than 40 minutes, which is good. Faithfull is good, as well. She for sure is a tough lady, who has led a rough life within the corridors of rock. The front cover picture shows Marianne in a blur of cigarette smoke, and yes, that is a fitting image to lead the album. She has a smoke-roasted voice, and she has been living a life (and tumbled through a career) with smoky clouds being a fitting image for what she has met. I it has been blue skies, clouded weather, or rainy days. She has seen everything and she has been everywhere. From peeking mountaintops, to hazy valley bottom. She knows life, she knows rock music, and she for sure knows how to put herself (her soul) in song interpretation. The opening title song (penned with Steve Earle - another artist that has been through a hard-knock life) is punchy, and it sounds both caring and bitter at the same time. "Sparrows Will Sing" (by Roger Waters) - which was released as a single - fits Faithfull quite well, even though it is on the edge of being.... too ambitious. Waters shines true, but I guess the producers/musicians/arrangers make the song works quite all right. Both "True Lies" (by Harcourt) and "Love More or Less" (by McRae) works rather good (the latter is by far the better of the two), but it is with "Late Victorian Holocaust", seeing the writing collaboration between Faithfull and Nick Cave sparkle, the album starts to glow. This is rather magic, and... it is not the first time Marianne has worked with Cave; just check out Before the Poison of 2005, and 2008's Easy Come, Easy Go. The more moody "Deep Water" (also penned by Cave/Faithfull) is even as strong as "Late Victorian...". It is a strong and vibrant ballad. Even "Mother Wolf" (co-written with Harcourt and Leonard) is dripping with a Cave-like atmosphere. Powerful! It's almost like it's a Bad Seeds murder ballad.

Give My Love to London is full of life, and holds the real passion only Marianne Faithfull can add to a song. Her rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Going Home" (written by Cohen and Patrick Leonard, for Cohen's 2012 album, Old Ideas) is sort of the sound of the ebb of a season. Autumn, that is (with some added magic and mystery by Eno, Harcourt and Ellis). The same goes for the closing track, "I Get Along Without You Very Well" (by Hoagy Carmichael). It seems like Faithfull is going on (and that she gets along) very well. Again, this is the sound of the ebb of the year. I truly hope it is not the sound of the end of an career. Hey, she's only 68! (Faithfull had her birthday last week, so she's still a young 68-year-old). Besides a couple less interesting tracks, this album shows Marianne Faithfull from a peak. Once more.

I mentioned that Faithfull's been singing songs of, or performing, working or collaboration with a long line of the BIG names in pop/rock/folk/country/etc. Let's see... (and, I have skipped the ones from this album): The Rolling Stones (Jagger & Richards), Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Jimmy Page, The Beatles (Lennon & McCartney), John Lennon, Tom Paxton, Bert Jansch, Ewan MacColl, Donovan, John Phillips, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Tim Hardin, Ray Davies, Waylon Jennings, Chuck Berry, Steve Winwood, Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, Bill Frisell, Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan, Dr. John, Serge Gainsbourg, Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter, Alan and John A. Lomax, Angelo Badalamenti, Harry Nilsson, Noël Coward, Daniel Lanois, Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Beck, Jon Brion, Billy Corgan, Dave Stewart, Jarvis Cocker and Pulp, Damon Albarn and Blur, PJ Harvey, Dolly Parton, Cat Power, Neko Case, Duke Ellington, The Decemberists, Marc Ribot, Bessie Smith, Rufus Wainwright, Espers, Randy Newman, Antony Hegarty, Smokey Robinson, Merle Haggard, Sean Lennon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sarah Vaughan, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Judee Sill, Morrissey, Traffic, Lou Reed, Wayne Kramer (of MC5), Carole King, Gerry Goffin, The Afghan Whigs, Shadow Morton, Jerry Leiber, Allen Toussaint, plus plus.... And, yes, we could quite easily add a list from the screen/stage/television world, as well: Glenda Jackson, Jean-Luc Godard, Orson Welles, Anna Karina, Alain Delon, Kenneth Anger, Tony Richardson, Anthony Hopkins, Britt Ekland, Sofia Coppola, Jennifer Saunders, Anita Pallenberg, ..., and on and on.

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You may also want to check out our Marianne Faithfull article/review: Kissin Time.

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