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Marianne Faithfull - Kissin' Time (Hut)

Her voice is like an old glove. Somewhat worse for wear, but seeming to possess all the knowledge of a divine past, handed down to us in the shape of one of those sad, discarded Piscean secrets. You can't help but listen and Marianne has no shortage of willing collaborators, more than ready to shake their fairy dust over her painful lyrics. And I mean painful in the sense of literary, not quality. Beck, Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) and Damon Albarn (Blur) all make their presence felt here with varying results. The most irritating of which is 'Sliding Through Life On Charm'.

To be fair, Cocker has hit the nail on the head with this tale of a world-weary Marianne, appearing to come from her own pen. But it sounds like yet another second-rate Pulp production, with more than a nod towards A Flock Of Seagulls. Do we really need it?

In contrast, we have the most important track - 'Song For Nico'. Dave Stewart has provided the subtlest accompaniment to this fragile story that reads from a perspective that could've fooled me into believing Marianne actually knew Nico. Though that's not the point. Contemporaries like Lou Reed and John Cale have all attempted songs about Nico before, but never quite captured the tortured soul in this way. Marianne turns biographer.

Beck does a fine job with 'Like being born'. This has the feel of a modern folk song that probably wouldn't have been out of place on Marianne's first album in the sixties. The out and out Beck cover 'Nobody's fault' is a sparsely produced jewel and never fails to surprise in that inimitable fashion at which Beck is so adept.

One odd aspect of this album is the contribution of Billy Corgan. Songs like 'I'm On Fire' and 'Wherever I Go' come off like easy listening, lacking the substance of so much of the rest of the songs. They sit rather uncomfortably amongst this collection of typically hard-hitting Marianne and along with the virtually unlistenable 'Love And Money', tend to tip the scales a bit. 'Kissin' time' with Damon Albarn doesn't fare much better, so if you're new to all that is Marianne Faithful and want to be impressed; go for "Broken English".

Peter Kearns

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