Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rewind: Marianne Faithfull - Broken Emglish

(Note: I'm dropping the tag "retro" on my album of the week posts since it seems they're all retro these days. I no longer need the qualifier, I guess.)

I'll admit it, the cover is what drew me in: tinted blue, face obscure by a hand, lips parted and the neon tip of a lit cigarette. It reeked of late-70s cool. It's still among my top albums, though to be honest, Broken English 's disco-era production hasn't aged well. It's a little cold and aloof, but a handful of the songs stand the test of time, notably "Why'd Ya Do It," one of the bitterest, nastiest songs ever committed to record:

Her cover of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" is a bit robotic, but still effective. (I'm biased, though. I fell in love with the original when I was a kid because it was the first time I ever heard someone drop an f-bomb in song. Silly, I know, but powerful for a seventh grader.) "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" is the outlier here. Written by Shel Silverstein, it's since been covered by many artists, including Bobby Bare and Lucinda Williams, and was featured in the movie Thelma and Louise.

This isn't a record I run to often, but when I do, I get to be "that girl" for while: glamorous and cool, but still a little rough around the edges.

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