INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Mojo OCTOBER 2014 - by Victoria Segal
MARIANNE FAITHFULL: GIVE MY LOVE TO LONDON
Fifty years and twenty albums in, the Baroness of Bohemia is still blazing away.
So much of Marianne Faithfull's life story seems to set her up for oblivion. She was the mayfly-like starlet, motionlessly singing her 1964 debut single As Tears Go By; the rock-star girlfriend whose fame was perceived as dependent on others; the woman who might have been rubbed out completely by drugs and illness. At the age of sixty-seven, though, there is now something monumental about Faithfull, as if her experiences have clad her in stone and steel. Other artists, not all renowned for their ability to slip into the background - Nick Cave, Roger Waters, Anna Calvi, Portishead's Adrian Utley - respond accordingly on Give My Love To London, happy to gather at her feet, close ranks around her, feed her music. Just her continued existence might ensure steady goodwill, attention and approval, but as this album underlines, she's more than a mere rock'n'roll totem.
But she knows how to use her reputation, as do her associates. Nick Cave's Late Victorian Holocaust, for example, is a stately, slowly dissolving story of heroin use on the Golborne Road, a song that might be too direct for him but suits her roughed-up voice perfectly. Her astute choices in collaborators (including producer Rob Ellis and Utley) and material (a surprisingly vehement version of The Everly Brothers' The Price Of Love) are again apparent. She remains the conductor, the architect, a stance made obvious on her cover of Leonard Cohen's elegiac Going Home. The opening lines ("I love to speak with Leonard...") makes her sound as if she's about to tell him off, but more subtly, her backing vocalists are Ellis, singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt and Brian Eno, bearing her aloft on a reverent choirboy hum. The title track, co-written with Steve Earle, also casts her as kohl-eyed Mistress Of Ceremonies. A Pied Piper reel, it soundtracks an antic caper through a Blakean city where the river runs bloody and the light bodes ill: "I'll visit all the places I used to know so well / From Maida Vale to Chelsea, paradise to hell."
If this apocalypse sounds positively merry, disgust at the world intensifies on the out-of-joint visions of Mother Wolf, her voice slipping a few circles down as she attacks a savage world, or True Lies, a punch-throwing brawl of a song that rails against deceit. Roger Waters' raucous, Jabberwocky-quoting Sparrows Will Sing seems to offer a flicker of hope, but the record ends with a punishing version of Get Along Without You Very Well, a permanent winter settling over everything, a dying fall. Yet given the fire and fury Faithfull brings to the record, it's a deceptive way to finish. Despite all the doom, there's no end in sight here.