Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Marianne Faithfull - Love in a Mist

Marianne Faithfull's fifth album, released in 1967, they did these things quickly back in those days,  is a mixed bag. It'll cost you a pretty penny to get yourself an original vinyl copy nowadays, but is not really worth the investment apart from a few tracks. It's certainly an inconsistent and slightly schizophrenic listen. Book-ended by a couple of quite dreadful covers of The Beatles' Yesterday and West Side Stories' I Have a Love, it also contains a fair bit more variable filler, notably the two versions of Tim Hardin songs Don't Make Promises and Reason to Believe, who all and sundry seemed to be covering at this point in time, with variable levels of success, which she doesn't really do anything interesting with.

Persevere though because there is some good stuff on the record, the best of which I've tried to post here. More successful are her attempts at three Donovan songs In the Night Time, Young Girl Blues and Good Guys, the descending chords and introspective mindset of which seem to better approximate the slightly more plaintive but reflective mood she seems to fit best.

The album also includes Little Bird and Counting, both previously released as singles by Faithfull, within her vocal range, still undoubtedly limited at this point in her career, but nicely orchestrated and hinting at the greater depth and poignancy she realised later on in her recording career. At this point she hasn't gathered the rich, dark and undoubtedly harrowing experiences she accrued as years passed or achieved the raspy tone that all that experience and nicotine and substance abuse would add to her armoury. Here, though aspiring to that well-worn, poetic tradition, she's often aiming for something she can't really hope to achieve.

The two French language covers, also a very in vogue thing to attempt at this point in time, Ne Me Quitte Pas and Coquillages, also fall slightly short of their target. Perhaps I'm being slightly harsh on the latter, a Marcel Stellman song. I'll post it here. Her version of Jackie DeShannon's With You in Mind, on the other hand, is indisputably a cracker. Here the slightness of her delivery is a match for the song's sentiments and the well-judged orchestral chamber arrangement.

It's in these songs that you get a sense of the small gem that she might have achieved with this record, had her management been more sensitive in term of the guiding advice of which material she should be covering, (because it's clearly thrown together with some urgency, to put product in the marketplace), or if she herself had had a clearer personal determination and sufficient leverage with those around her to push the album in a single direction. Sadly that was not the case at this point in proceedings, too much of this is aimed at the mainstream while her lifestyle, associates, (most obviously The Stones of course), and sensibility indicated what a more consistently bohemian framework might have achieved. Still, the six songs posted here are more than sufficient at fifty years remove. 

This was the last album Faithfull was to release for nine years. In the meantime, she lived to the full, still in the public glare for some of it but then falling away from it, in great danger of utterly disappearing through the cracks of life like so many of her generation. She came back to the recording studio an utterly different proposition and certainly not a puppet of any description as she comes across on many of the songs I haven't posted here from this record.  Everything she's released since speaks of those lost years and the fact most of all that she managed to survived them. Here are some excerpts from a more innocent and surely for her at least, a rather happier time.

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