Marianne Faithfull – Blazing Away (Live album)

Marianne Faithfull - Blazing Away

Marianne Faithfull – Blazing Away (Live album)

Label: Island 842 794
Format: Vinyl, LP
Country: USA
Released: 1990
Genre: Electronic, Rock, Pop
Style: Synth-pop, Ballad, Classic Rock

Don’t judge a book by the cover – even it’s in Broken English

“Cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women – They’ll drive you crazy, they’ll drive you insane”.
So sang the Wilburn Brothers on The Grand Ole Opry in 1940’s. They might have had other reasons to sing these lines as Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull was only born on 29 December 1946.
Marianne Faithfull is an English singer, songwriter, and actress. She achieved popularity in the 1960s with the release of her hit single “As Tears Go By” and became one of the lead female artists during the British Invasion in the United States.

Her debut album Marianne Faithfull (1965) (released simultaneously with her album Come My Way) was a commercial success followed by a number of albums on Decca Records. From 1966 to 1970, she had a highly publicised romantic relationship with Mick Jagger. Her popularity was further enhanced by her film roles, such as I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname (1967), The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), and Hamlet (1969). However, her popularity was overshadowed by personal health and substance abuse problems in the 1970s.

Most of us know her for her distinctive voice which were affected by severe laryngitis, coupled with persistent drug abuse during the 1970s, permanently altering her voice, leaving it raspy, cracked and lower in pitch. This sound was praised as “whisky soaked” by some critics for helping capture the raw emotions expressed in her music.

After a long commercial absence, Faithfull made a comeback with the 1979 release of her critically acclaimed album Broken English. The album was a commercial success and marked a resurgence of her musical career. Broken English earned Faithfull a nomination for Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and is often regarded as her “definitive recording.”

Whilst controversial on its release (due to a language warning for minors) on the Island label in 1990, Blazing Away is a live album by Marianne Faithfull which has garnered some amazing reviews.
In his review for Allmusic, Ned Raggett notes that “Fully established as a dramatic, innovative singer with astonishing appeal and energy thanks to her string of excellent ’80s releases, Faithfull concluded her renaissance decade with Blazing Away, an excellent live album… Faithfull and the players fit hand in glove track for track, with the emphasis on subtler arrangements and performances suiting the hushed, striking atmosphere of the performance”.

Available in crappy 120gm throwaway vinyl and cover sleeve it might seem an unlikely addition to your treasured album collection. The old adage “Don’t judge a book by the cover” certainly applies here! Try Guilt from the album.

I would have passed over it had not Paul S (a dear friend of 30 years plus) played me the digital CD version late one night over a glass of cognac. The musical dynamics and recording of the space shone through and each track exposed the raw energy and life stories of Marianne Faithful. Torch Songs is one classification but instead of some demur solo jazz interpretation here the stage is literally (actually lyrically perhaps even liturgically) set of fire in the cathedral acoustic space. I had to have it on vinyl.

Dial up the trusty Discogs and sure enough I got my crappy 120GM vinyl in worn cover variant in short order. Who cares? It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it. Marianne both barrels blazing away with the result – BLOWN AWAY!

Another great live album to add to the collection. I write this as I listen to another great live performance by a young artist Marlon Williams. I can hear the same sort of real emotional connections being explored on both albums. Blazing Away is another album to play in its entirety. Faithfull is listed on VH1’s “100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll” list. She received the World Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 Women’s World Awards and was made a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France.

A survivor in all senses of the word as she sings in Broken English.

A book worth reading even if the cover is worn and the spine ragged round the edges.

Track listing

“Les Prisons du Roy” (Michel Rivgauche, Irving Gordon) – 6:46
“Strange Weather” (Kathleen Brennan, Tom Waits) – 5:12
“Guilt” (Barry Reynolds) – 7:51
“Working Class Hero” (John Lennon) – 6:07
“Sister Morphine” (Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) – 7:25
“As Tears Go By” (Jagger, Andrew Loog Oldham, Richards) – 4:25
“Why’d Ya Do It?” (Faithfull, Reynolds, Terry Stannard, Heathcote Williams, Steve York) – 6:31
“When I Find My Life” (Faithfull, Reynolds) – 2:59
“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” (Shel Silverstein) – 5:08
“Times Square” (Reynolds, Faithfull) – 4:57
“Blazing Away” (Faithfull, Reynolds) – 4:10
“She Moved Through the Fair” (Traditional; arranged by Marianne Faithfull) – 2:09
“Broken English” (Faithfull, Joe Maverty, Reynolds, Stannard, York) – 7:37

Personnel

Marianne Faithfull – vocals
Barry Reynolds – guitar, backing vocals (tracks 1–10, 12 & 13), musical director, associate producer
Marc Ribot – guitar (tracks 1–10, 12 & 13)
Garth Hudson – keyboards, accordion (tracks 1–10, 12 & 13)
Lew Soloff – trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 1–10, 12 & 13)
Mac Rebennack – piano (track 10)
Fernando Saunders – bass, backing vocals, guitar
Dougie Bowne (tracks 1–10, 12 & 13), Charley Drayton (track 11) – drums
Kevin Savanger – keyboards (track 11)
Don Alias – percussion (track 11)
Gib Wharton – pedal steel guitar (track 11)
Nelson Stump – cowbell, kick drum (track 14)
Technical
Kevin Patrick – executive producer
Joe Ferla – engineer, mixing
Tony Wright – art direction, cover artwork
Dana Shimizu – design
George DuBose – cover photography

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