March 5, 2009

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Marianne Faithfull, Easy Come Easy Go
Decca Records, March 3

Marianne Faithfull is a historical landmark on the rock n roll superhighway, a font of swingerdom in mid-60s London and the first singer to have made a hit out of the first (so legend says) Jagger/Richards composition “As Tears Go By” in 1964, this accomplished one year before the Rolling Stones committed it to the B-side of “19th Nervous Breakdown.” Over-40s may also remember her for “Broken English” in 1979; stunning in her ramshackle, croaky vocalizing, she redefined the melancholy, hopeless comeback attempt. Along the way, she’s hit the Superfecta of misfortune, from drug addiction to famous, tragic extramarital affair; breast cancer to Hep C.

And so ECEG, not surprisingly, is part of Faithfull’s retirement plan. At 62, there’s little hipness she can offer the world, but this covers record is a valiant effort, hitting up Decembrists (a Peavey-powered “The Crane” Wife,” co-starring a subdued Nick Cave, though it could have been literally anyone with an Adams apple), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (“Salvation” with Sean Lennon) and a delicate oom-pah-pah massaging of Brian Eno’s “How Many Worlds”. Unpredictable to the end, she begins the album with a remake of Dolly Parton’s unplugged back-porch tearjerker “Down From Dover” with both musical feet planted in a more Linda Ronstadt-like aesthetic of a lonely end-of-the-world singles bar, which sort of says it all, really. A-Eric W. Saeger