Marianne Faithfull, ‘Negative Capability’ (2018)

“It’s taken me a long time to learn, in fact my whole life so far”

Damn Marianne! This album near destroyed me.

Negative Capability seems to occupy a similar territory to some of Leonard Cohen’s last works. There’s a very conscious sense of someone staring down mortality and trying to tell us something of what they’ve learned from a long life.

Nick Cave and Ed Harcourt are perfect songwriting collaborators for Faithfull. The instrumentation is gorgeous and the songs bring out her strengths, along with a sensitive production from Head, Warren Ellis and Rob Ellis. Yes, her voice is cracked and broken, but boy, can she still put a song across.

And the songs! Faithfull’s 1965 hit ‘And Tears Go By’ has a very different resonance when sung by a 72 year-old woman (“I sit and watch the children play”) and is especially moving because we know what Hell she went through in the following years.  ‘The Gypsy Faerie Queen’ is a beautiful song and Nick’s Cave’s rich backing vocals give me chills.  There’s a broken-down cover of ‘It’s all over now, baby blue’. No Faithfull album would be complete without a rambling, angry, in-your-face song like ‘They Come at Night’.

One to treasure.

Lovely little video about the making of the album and interview with Faithfull here 

Soundtrack to November

Music post even later this month.  I seem to have lost the last couple of weeks somewhere along the way.

Oh well, the seasonal listening continued in November with more of the artists that I tend to associate with winter.  I’m still working my way through Johnny Cash’s Unearthed (2003) collection, mainly focussing on the second disc, Trouble in Mind, a collection of covers which ends with a quite sublime version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird on a Wire’.

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Soundtrack to July

Frank Black, Frank Black

I love The Pixies and Frank Black’s solo work.  This is an album that I often ignore for months at a time, only to take it out and listen to it obssessively for a week or two.  It’s just a really fun, guitar album with a surf rock sound, great tunes, riffs galore and amusing Frank Black lyrics.  My favourite tracks are probably the homage to The Beach Boys,  ‘I Heard Ramona Sing’ and the finale ‘Don’t Ya Rile Em’, but I find it hard to pick out individual tracks.  It’s more of an album that I listen to for the overall sound and impression it creates, which is that of a middle-aged dude rocking out and having fun.

Grinderman, Grinderman 2

Speaking of middle-aged dudes rocking out, this is the second album from Nick Cave’s garage rock band.  The chaos feels more organised than Nick Cave’s early work which Grinderman seems to revisit, but it’s still enjoyably anarchic and urgent, all buzzing guitars, rumbling base lines and shouty vocals.  I love the other middle-aged dudes in the band singing  the “Ooh ooh ooh” backing vocals on ‘Worm Tamer’.  The rambling ‘Heathen Child’  sets out to remind us that nothing will protect us.  The epic ‘When my baby comes’ goes on and on and on and sounds quite rude.  ‘I Want You’ has some trademark Nick Cave longing for a woman’s attention.  It’ a big old mix of lusty rambunctiousness.

Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Best of

And suddenly I find myself turning into a late-blooming Siouxsie and the Banshees fan.  I’ve always liked the odd song, but never really got this band.  Then I started listening to The Best of on Spotify and got myself converted.  The musc has such a distinctive sound and still comes across as so energetic and fresh.  Most of the hits are here, but there are also good covers of Bob Dylan’s ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ and The Beatles’s ‘Dear Prudence’.  You can also hear the influence that Siouxsie’s vocal style had on bands like Sleater Kinney and Bikini Kill.