20th Century Blues

27 May


After a couple of weeks’ ‘time out’ this blog resumes with Marianne Faithfull’s 1996 collection on RCA Victor/BMG. Recorded live in Paris, with overdubs in London, this is very much a showcase for the songs of Kurt Weill (and Bertolt Brecht). The primary instrumentation is Paul Trueblood’s piano plus some acoustic bass. This means you can really hear Ms Faithfull’s distinctive vocals,  Even since she released, ‘Broken English’ in 1979, I’ve admired that ravaged, throaty delivery, seemingly marinated in booze, cigarettes and sundry other narcotics. Mix this with the evocative songs from the days of the Weimar republic and it’s a powerful combination.

There’s some familiar stuff here: ‘Alabama Song (also covered memorably by The Doors), ‘Mack the Knife’,  ‘Pirate Jenny’ and the magnificent ‘Ballad of the Soldier’s Wife’ by Weill and also other songs of similar vintage including  ‘Falling in Love Again’ (yes, the song popularised by Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s) and the title track (written by Noel Coward) plus one modern piece (Harry Nilsson’s ‘Don’t Forget Me).

I always think of this as the album which marked Marianne Faithful’s transition from being an interesting rock vocalist (and prior to that an attractive but essentially lightweight pop singer) into being a fully fledged diva and interpreter of  a wider range of material.


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