Give My Love to London
The grande dame of pop, rock, show tunes, and blues has released her 20th studio album to celebrate her 50th anniversary as a recording artist. From her start in 1964 as the bosomy, angel-voiced ingénue for whom Mick Jagger and Keith Richards composed “As Tears Go By,” it has been a long and winding road for Marianne Faithfull. After becoming Jagger’s girlfriend during the Stones’ most fertile period (Faithfull cowrote “Sister Morphine,” and “Wild Horses” was supposedly written as a paean to her), she fell from grace and into drug addiction during the 1970s. Her eventual rehabilitation and Phoenix-like resurrection began with 1979’s acclaimed Broken English, on which a whisky-voiced Faithfull sang songs of experience rather than innocence. She subsequently released a dozen uncompromising albums, from 1981’s Dangerous Acquaintances to 2011’s Horses and High Heels. Give My Love to London is a worthy addition to the collections of Faithfull fans. Among the highlights is the Roger Waters–penned “Sparrows Will Sing,” with its “Jabberwocky”-referencing lyrics. The title track (cowritten with Steve Earle) alludes to The Threepenny Opera: “The river’s running bloody, the tower’s tumbling down / I’m singing ‘Pirate Jenny’ while the Black Ship’s bearing down.” Nick Cave shows up for “Late Victorian Holocaust,” a song about the heroin euphoria of a couple of lost London souls. A cover of “Venus in Furs” should have been added, and it’s a pity The Glimmer Twins didn’t contribute anything to mark the occasion. But as tears — and years — have gone by, Faithfull has proved to be both an accomplished artist and a sagacious survivor.