Here is the sound of a bygone Britain; listen and wonder.
Garth Cartwright 2008
Marianne Faithfull is a British legend; her continued survival – she's overcome severe heroin addiction, homelessness and cancer – is inspiring and admirable, no self-pity or living in the past for her. Indeed, so used to the grizzled, heavy-smoking legend are we, that it can be difficult to recall that when Marianne started out she was both extraordinarily beautiful and something of an ingénue. A very public relationship with Mick Jagger helped make her one of the faces of London's Swinging Sixties, yet while Jagger rode the tidal wave of fame (and infamy) on to superstardom, Faithfull – originally celebrated as both singer and actress – crashed and burned, scorned by a public who judged her mistakes very harshly. That she rebuilt her career so completely, and in a musical style very different to that with which she started, has made her an icon; a grand dame of British rock rebels.
Live At The BBC takes the listener back to Faithfull’s early days. These fragile and often acoustic songs were recorded for BBC radio broadcasts with Faithfull accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. On some tracks there is a backing guitarist adding melody and rhythm.
To remind today's listener of how long ago all this occurred there are excerpts of an interview with a very formal BBC gent who, rather patronisingly, asks Marianne about her forthcoming wedding and whether having a baby will curtail her career. She answers in a voice of such innocence that you want to turn back time and tell her to: "avoid Rolling Stones and don't take drugs!" Instead, the interviewer announces she is about to play her third Stones composition and the dreamy ballad, As Tears Go By, begins.
The tears did go by but Faithfull survived to sing another day. Here is the sound of a bygone Britain; listen and wonder.