Review : Marianne Faithfull - Horses and High Heels
HitthefloorI’m the only Hit The Floor contributor that can actually remember the young, quiver-voiced Marianne Faithfull singing ‘As Tears Go By’ back in 1964. Is that voice still there I wanted to know, no it’s not. It’s long gone and been replaced by a scorched-earth, lean me against a piano or mike stand and I’ll still sing type voice.
The blurb says she’s “The Godmother of Goth, emblem of the night, both doomed romantic and ultimate bohemian survivor” and they’re probably right. How she survived the 60′s & 70′s is more luck than judgement, but she did and this is her 23rd solo album. Thirteen tracks but only four are originals, ‘ Why did we have to part?’, ‘Prussian Blue’, ‘Horses and High Heels’ and ‘Eternity’ featuring a sampled Arabian-jazz flourish recorded in Morocco by Brian Jones in 1968.
My favourite cover has to be Carol Kings classic ‘Goin Back’, but it’s no Dusty Springfield I’m afraid. Other highlights, not many, but I do like ‘Horses and High Heels’ with it’s Irish folk feel and ‘Eternity’ with it’s percussive back beat. I also quite liked ‘Gee Baby’.
Is it worth buying? well it’s certainly worth a listen. If you don’t mind the fact that Ms Faithfull can’t sing anymore the overall sound is not bad if you like layed back and unconventional. She states in the blurb that the songs are about now, but there is a definate late 60′s early 70′s rock/blues/jam feel to many of the tracks....full text
BbcMany so-called UK blues or folk singers would die for the authentic, lived-in singing voice of Marianne Faithfull. Or, to put it more succinctly, many so-called UK blues or folk singers would literally die if they tried to follow in the footsteps of this iconic survivor. For many of her contemporaries, the end of the 60s meant little more than a hangover and a change of haircut, but for the author of Sister Morphine it meant the entire, catastrophic collapse of her life. By the end of 1970 she was a homeless heroin and cocaine addict living rough on the streets of Soho after losing custody of her child and having suffered the awful accusation of being the primary cause of her own mother’s suicide attempt.
When she finally starting piecing her life back together, some snide reviews claimed that she had "permanently vulgarized" her voice. But really she had the equipment she needed to make her grand statement, 1979’s jaw dropping Broken English – a truly astonishing album, despite the terrible cost she paid in order to be able to make it.
Horses and High Heels is her first record since covers collection Easy Come, Easy Go in 2009, and its mix of originals and standards shows that the 64-year-old singer has at least partially dealt with her writer’s block of recent years. There are few men or women of any age who could convincingly cover The Twilight Singers’ drug-ravaged hymn The Stations, but Ms Faithfull does without even stretching herself. Again her voice is ideal to cope with the rueful Carole King classic, Goin’ Back. To be honest though, this reviewer could have done with more of her own songs, such as the killer title-track and Why Did We Have to Part, instead of the pointless, cabaret-style schmaltz of Past, Present and Future....full text
PopmattersMarianne Faithfull’s last record,Easy Come, Easy Go (2008), was an ambitious double album of covers that featured an extraordinary roll call of guest artists and ranged widely through musical genres, finding space for songs by Dolly Parton, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Judee Sill, Duke Ellington, Morrissey, Espers, Merle Haggard and many more. In terms of quality control, Easy Come, Easy Go was, like much of Faithfull’s recorded output, an erratic release, one that lurched wildly from the sublime (Faithfull and Nick Cave tackling The Decemberists’ “The Crane Wife”) to the ridiculous (a truly bizarre cover of Bernstein/Sondheim’s “Somewhere (A Place For Us)” with Jarvis Cocker). But the album nonetheless generated a cumulative excitement as Faithfull and her collaborators somehow turned the record’s melange of folk, blues, jazz, country and contemporary rock songs into something resembling a cohesive statement. Uniting the diverse material was, of course, Faithfull’s distinctive smoky croak, with its strange, singular mixture of punky defiance, folky intimacy and Dietrich-esque hauteur.
Faithfull returns with a somewhat lower-key release in Horses and High Heels, her 23rd solo album. Produced again by Hal Willner and recorded in the New Orleans French Quarter, the record features four songs co-written by Faithfull and eight cover tracks, including a song written especially for her by the playwright Frank McGuinness. The roster of big-name collaborators has been significantly trimmed (oh, but wait! There’s Lou Reed on guitar! And Dr. John! And MC5’s Wayne Kramer!), but the album makes the most of the talents of some crack New Orleans musicians, including Carlo Nuccio on drums, George Porter Jr. on bass and Bob Andrews on keyboards. There’s a palpable Crescent City vibe to many of the tracks, and in its merging of blues, soul and rock influences, the record is close in spirit to an album such as Bettye LaVette’s contemporary classic I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise (2005). One of Faithfull’s most consistently engaging releases, Horses and High Heels is strong enough to withstand that particular comparison....full text
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