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Broken English

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Editors’ Notes

Marianne Faithfull had already been written off as a one-hit wonder ("As Tears Go By") and a dark angel of drug-dependence ("Sister Morphine") when she reinvented herself in 1979 with this tough, entrancing collection of synthesizer-driven dance tracks. Granted, it's death disco, with Faithfull's scarred vocal delivery leading the dance , and years of drinking, drugs and cigarettes removed any trace of her choirgirl innocence. Her version of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" has a pulsing menace underneath its social class warnings. "Why D'Ya Do It?" is an X-rated recounting of high infidelity, driven by hard rock guitar and Faithfull's agonized scowl. "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" is a middle-aged woman's admission that life's kicks are no longer within view. Throughout Broken English there are moments of eerie self-acknowledgement. With it, Faithfull found her true voice and used it to its full advantage.

Customer Reviews

Rough Style

I was first turned on to Marianne after seeing her perform with an extremely rough voice on Saturday Night Live. She sang "Broken English" that night. This album is amazing especially Why d'Ya Do It?. I'm glad she was given her second chance at life and music.

Marianne's Resurrection

This is the album to start your Marianne Faithfull trip. The lead song, "Broken English" refers to a newscast she heard one day about the Bader-Meinhoff Group, a Red Wing militant faction in Germany in the '70's. She goes on to shred John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" and Shel Silverstein's "Ballad Of Lucy Jordan" is a song that is about a woman who lived in direct counterpoint to Marianne Faithfull and then killed herself. Sister Morphine is finally sung with feeling...and rage, Why'd Ya Do It? is great for the potty mouth but notice that the singer is speaking in different voices throughout the song. Man/Woman/Marianne. The voice growls mostly, but when it soars it's like sun on a rainy day. If you like this, go buy "Blazing Away" a live concert from St. Ann's in Brooklyn. Then the new stuff like "Vagabond Ways" and "After The Poison". If you're into it, get "20th Century Blues". Long Live Marianne Faithfull!


Marianne Faithfull got a second chance and made the most of it. "Broken English" was unlike any of her 60s releases in both sound and credibility, presenting her as a serious, independent artist with something to say. Her rough-edged voice adapts to every mood here, sounding whiskey-soaked on the rock/blues songs, detached on electro-based tracks, then shifting to a husky throb reminiscent of Ronnie Spector during more reflective moments. "Why d'Ya Do It?" has yet to cede its crown as greatest-angry-sex-song by a female rock artist, despite noteworthy attempts by followers from Joan Jett to Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette (who, like Faithfull, shrugged off her dubious early pop efforts with a fortuitous, career-defining second chance). "Broken English" features important contributions from Barry Reynolds, a remarkable John Lennon cover, and support from big names like Steve Winwood, but there's never a doubt this is Marianne Faithfull's moment. The fact that she chose not to make another album quite like "Broken English" only enhances its status as a seminal recording.


Born: December 29, 1946 in Hampstead, London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Few stars of the '60s reinvented themselves as successfully as Marianne Faithfull. Coaxed into a singing career by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham in 1964, she had a big hit in both Britain and the U.S. with her debut single, the Jagger/Richards composition "As Tears Go By" (which prefaced the Stones' own version by a full year). Considerably more successful in her native land than the States, she had a series of hits in the mid-'60s that set her high, fragile voice against delicate orchestral...
Full Bio
Broken English, Marianne Faithfull
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  • $5.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Adult Alternative
  • Released: Feb 1979

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