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Marianne Faithfull: Kissin Time


Marianne Faithfull

Album: Kissin Time
Label: Hut/Virgin

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Marianne Faithfull embodied swinging London until she became a creaking specter of its past, re-emerging at the end of the '70s with a voice that captured the sound of good times gone wrong. Consequently, there's more than a touch of willful perversity to her cover of the innocuous Herman's Hermits chestnut "I'm Into Something Good," a bonus track on the new Kissin Time that sounds less like cheek than the result of a madman's time-travel experiment. Aside from "Song For Nico," an elegy co-written with Dave Stewart, Faithfull spends Kissin Time looking forward more often than back. Featuring guest stars and co-writers in abundance, the album surrounds Faithfull's voice with contemporary touches that might have overwhelmed a less distinctive singer. But Faithfull holds her own from the first track, the Beck collaboration "Sex With Strangers." A tale of liberation through sexual aggression, the song sounds like a gender-reversed outtake from Midnite Vultures; Beck proves an unusually sympathetic collaborator on each of his three appearances here. But then, most of Faithfull's guests do right by her. Too literal an account for its subject or its singer, "Nico" is one of the album's flatter moments. But two contributions from Billy Corgan unexpectedly weld Faithfull's romantic creak to late-period Smashing Pumpkins lushness, and in Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Faithfull may have found the best muse of the bunch. On their autobiographical "Sliding Through Life On Charm," Faithfull even threatens to mock the project at hand, singing about "suburban shits who want some class" who "all cue up to kiss my ass." That sort of song comes from singers who no longer care about burned bridges. And "Charm," like much of Kissin Time, captures what's made Faithfull's post-comeback career so frequently compelling.