For many, the 70s were a wasteland, a hangover from the excesses of the 60s.
Marianne Faithfull is a classic example. Entering the decade estranged from Mick Jagger, struggling with a drug addiction the English artist would spend the next ten years battling her issues.
As the 70s drew to a close, though, Faithfull managed to transcend her problems with some of the finest work of her career. Initially released in 1979, 'Broken English' remains a confounding, beautiful, frustrating piece of work. Allowing her troubles to surface, Marianne Faithfull's voice sounds older, cracked in comparison to the golden tones found on those classic 60s singles.
The production reflects the troubled era it was born in. Emerging electronics make an impression, while the sheer rage which 'Broken English' conjures at times is capable of holding its own with anything in the punk or post-punk era. After all, Marianne Faithfull had her own, quite personal, reasons for doing away with the memory of the 60s...
Reflecting on the album, recently, Marianne Faithfull emphasised that those original sessions were overshadowed by a lingering sense of her own mortality. “I thought I was going to die, that this was my last chance to make a record. It’s this sense, that “fucking hell, before I die, I’m going to show you bastards who I am.”
Set to be re-issued on January 28th, 'Broken English' is set to be packaged with a number of unreleased tracks and rarities. 'Sister Morphine' occupies a unique place in the Marianne Faithfull canon, since it was co-written with Mick Jagger and was later recorded by The Rolling Stones.
In 1982, though, Marianne Faithfull decided to re-visit the track as part of Island's 20th anniversary celebrations. Available as part of the new 'Broken English' package, you can listen to 'Sister Morphine' below.
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An expanded re-issue of 'Broken English' is set to be released on January 28th.