Category Archives: 1970’s

Free – Fire and Water – Classic Music Review

I came across this album while thumbing through my dad’s massive LP collection, looking for his copy of Bare Trees. His albums are carefully arranged in alphabetical order, but I overshot the mark a bit and found this one Free record stuck between Fleetwood Mac and Bill Frisell. I might have been unconsciously attracted to the spot because of the shine from the original plastic wrapping.

“What’s this dad? The plastic’s still on it.”

“Oh yeah, that one. My m.o. when I bought an album was to slice it open with a guitar pick so it remained in pristine condition if I wanted to take it back and trade it in. I meant to do that but never got around to it and forgot all about it until we were packing for the big move. I figured it didn’t have much value so I stuck in the crate along with everything else.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Classic bait-and-switch. ‘All Right Now’ came out and blew me away, so I picked up the album as soon as it was available. There’s nothing on it that comes close to ‘All Right Now,’ and the single is better than the long version. Big letdown.”

I took all that in but had a hard time believing that any album featuring Paul Rodgers’ voice could be a “big letdown,” so when I left that day, my shopping bag contained Bare Trees, Close to the Edge and Fire and Water. Though I was planning reviews on the first two, my insatiable curiosity led me to listen to the Free album first. Like everyone else in the civilized world, I’d heard “All Right Now” a billion times, but because the song hit the airwaves eleven years before I popped out of the box, I missed out on the initial excitement generated by the single and didn’t have the expectations my dad carried into his initial listening experience.

The two features of the human personality that get in the way of the quest to achieve the objective evaluation of anything you care to mention are mood and expectations, two filters that are often interrelated. Let’s say you successfully get the broad with a nice rack to come up to your place only to find out that the nice rack was an optical illusion created by a push-up bra “guaranteed to add two sizes to your bustline.” Your dashed expectations take you out of the mood, and the best you can do at that point is honor the implied commitment to B-cup Betty by tossing her a pity fuck. Your disappointment is on you, for if you hadn’t been hungering for Dolly Parton, you might have found out that B-cup Betty gives great head, can take anything you can dish out and can squeeze every last drop out of your tube steak.

The mess created by mood and expectations manifests itself frequently in music criticism, even on altrockchick.com. When I was preparing my ain’t-gonna-happen book of reviews for publication, I came across at least a dozen reviews where I could see either mood or expectations had gotten in the way of a fair evaluation. I edited them accordingly, but like a recovering addict, I know that it’s always possible that I’ll slip again someday.

In this case, as much as I’d love to embarrass my father in a public forum by telling him he’s full of crap, I fully understand his reaction. “All Right Now” is clearly the outlier on Fire and Water, a sexy hard rocker attached to the end of an album dominated by slow to mid-tempo songs in the realm of blues-R&B-soul delivered through rock instruments. Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers came up with the song because the band lacked a concert closing number that would excite the crowd and make them beg for an encore. If I’m my father in his early twenties with his testosterone set to ignite at the sound of kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll, I might have been seriously pissed off by the extended foreplay represented by the six songs that precede “All Right Now.”

But while the album has other weaknesses (the volume sliders were often set too low on Paul Rodgers’ vocals, sometimes the bass tones are off), the album does have its strengths. Free began life as a precocious group of teenagers riding the wave of the British Blues Boom, and their early education in the blues gave them a solid foundation on which to build their sound. Andy Fraser spent some time playing with John Mayall (at the age of fifteen!), and despite the occasionally odd EQ level from the engineer, he was a nimble bassist good enough to earn a couple of bass solos on the album. Paul Kossoff was a young man who would die way too young, but in that short time established himself as a versatile, soulful and innovative guitarist. Even at this early stage in his career, Simon Kirke had mastered the essentials of beat, and his steadiness on the kit definitely contributed to the band’s tightness. As for Paul Rodgers, well . . . though I occasionally have to crank up the volume to hear him, his performances on Fire and Water demonstrate that he was well on his way to becoming a top tier lead vocalist.

On the title track, though, Rodgers takes a back seat to the magnificent guitar work of Paul Kossoff, who filled both the lead and rhythm guitar roles. If you want to explain to someone what texture means to music, and how well-executed contrasting textures give the music dimensional depth, have them listen to the instrumental break in “Fire and Water.” The rhythm guitar slams out the base chords with rough, pre-metal tonality, bolstering the rhythmic intensity. The two lead guitar parts are split between long sustained notes in a comparatively mellow tone and a series of blues-influenced riffs that kiss the tonal border of the rhythm guitar before pulling back. To my ears, the rhythm guitar is the hot fire, the lead guitar the cool water, and the tonal proximity of the blues riffs mirrors the bipolar but unified personality of the ball-breaking mistress at the heart of the song:

Baby you turn me on
But as quick as a flash your love is gone
Baby I’m gonna leave you now
But I’m gonna try to make you grieve somehow
Fire and water must have made you their daughter

Kossoff receives superb support from Andy Fraser on bass and piano, a relatively restrained but beautifully delivered lead vocal from Rodgers and marvelous cueing from Simon Kirke (who earns himself a multi-tonal drum solo on the fade). “Fire and Water” may not be a burst-out-of-the-gate album opener, but it’s one damned fine piece of work with a tantalizing grind that immediately earned it a spot on my notorious fuck playlists.

Free dials it down even further in the notably introverted piece, “Oh, I Wept.” While the biblically melodramatic title is a bit of a turn-off, the low-key arrangement is disciplined and surprisingly engaging. The dynamic peak occurs in the instrumental break, where Kossoff leads with a solo of sweet bends that highlight his precise but sensitive picking while the rhythm section of Fraser and Kirke add a touch of muscle to the mix. Rodgers’ vocal is the polar opposite of his high-heat vocal on “All Right Now,” his tone of emotional exhaustion rarely rising above the level of private conversation.

“Remember” lifts the energy level a bit, a mid-tempo rocker with classic backbeat emphasis. The song opens with a nice bit of foreshadowing, again with Kossoff on lead and rhythm, the rough chords offset with a slightly dampened, reverb-kissed melodic riff. Rodgers vocal is nice and loose, marked by his stylistic lean to fill in the gaps between the lines with additional vocalizations (grunts, oh yeahs and his fallback word, “baby”). The centerpiece once again is the Kossoff solo, with the guitar separated from the rest of the sound field through the magic of reverb, his melodic echoes spot on, his clean tones ringing out with gorgeous clarity. I’m guessing that the lyrics to this Fraser-Rodgers piece came from Rodgers, as the line “We would wander around in the northern heat” points us in the direction of Rodgers’ hometown of Middlesbrough and not to the kid from London.

Andy Fraser opens “Heavy Load” with some rather stiff piano playing, probably echoes of his classical training. He loosens up a bit in the instrumental passage, but he still sounds like I did before I discovered Thelonious Monk. The best parts of the song still belong to Kossoff, who plays two lead patterns in opposite channels during his too-brief solo. Kossoff was a master of the short and sweet melodic riff, and these tiny snippets are little bursts of beauty that lift the song to a higher dimension. As is true of most of the songs on Fire and Water, the lyrics don’t present much of an intellectual challenge, but Paul Rodgers has the ability to lend credibility to even the tritest lyrics.

We continue in downtempo mode for “Mr. Big,” where the lyrics cross the line into horrible and don’t give Rodgers much to work with. Mr. Big seems to be someone who has dissed Rodgers’ squeeze; the line “and she saves it all for me” probably indicates that Mr. Big may have implied that said squeeze had been squeezing Mr. Big’s member. I can understand how that might get a guy’s dander up, but threatening to place the alleged perpetrator in “a great big hole in the ground” is clearly over the top. Free decides to move on from this lame tale in relatively short order, ramping up the tempo for an extended instrumental break. Andy Fraser gets the solo this time, but unfortunately for Andy (who played his part well), his bass sounds more like a rubber tuba than a bass guitar, thanks to poor engineering.

Free attempts to get up from the canvas with the slowest song on the album, “Don’t Say You Love Me,” a song that Al Green might have done justice to had he not been fully capable of writing his own stuff. This song represents my dad’s strongest argument against the album, for at this point, I’m ready to scream, “Get the fuck on with it and kick some everloving ass!”

Ah! There it is! At last! The famous two-power-chord riff with a Dsus2 on second go-round! As simple and straightforward as a deep thrust and just as effective! Rip that Les Paul to fucking shreds, Paulie baby! Oh my—is Paul Rodgers feeling it or what? That little scream sounds like a man who came home, opened the door, turned on the lights and found three stacked and naked broads waiting to tend to his every need. Ah, but Paul is a professional, a disciplined and intentional vocalist, so he closes his eyes, puts all those delectable racks out of his mind and tells us what happened to him just the other day:

There she stood in the street
Smiling from her head to her feet
I said hey, what is this
Now baby, maybe she’s in need of a kiss
I said hey, what’s your name baby?
Maybe we can see things the same
Now don’t you wait or hesitate
Let’s move before they raise the parking rate

Clever line, that last one, but 99% percent of the people I know sing “Let’s move before they raise the fucking rate!” In addition to being damned satisfying, the word substitution is helpful for people who can’t sing a note but desperately want to match the intensity in Paul Rodgers’ burst of exuberance. Most of those Rodgers wannabes are unaware how skillfully Paul Rodgers has set them up for the great explosion through the masterful self-imposed restraint he exercises in the first six lines. The restraint starts to unravel with his deliberate flutter of the vowels on “wait” and “hesitate,” creating an overwhelming tension that demands not just resolution but near-orgasmic fucking resolution. The chorus in this context is incredibly grounding, giving the girls in the audience a chance to freshen up and sop up any wet spots.

I’ll cover the second verse on its second go-round, but I want to get to the instrumental passage so I can ask my dad a question. “Hey, dad! Are you out of your fucking mind? The single version is better than the long version? What? Let me quote Joe Strummer here. ‘ARRRGHHHGORRA BUH BHUH DO ARRRRGGGGHHHHNNNN!!!!’ Sorry, but I simply could not find the words to communicate how violently I disagree with your opinion. Love you too. Ciao.”

The instrumental passage in the long version of “All Right Now” demonstrates just how well the guys in Free clicked when they were on. Simon Kirke’s drumming is more like the guidance of a conductor, holding back to allow the instrumentalists to establish space, prodding them to rise to the occasion by adding a varied cymbal attack and cueing the end of the sequence with an assertive but not overbearing drum roll a few measures before the conclusion. After a brief duet featuring Kirke and Kossoff, Andy Fraser takes over with a commanding bass line that drives the chordal and tempo shift that opens to an extended Kossoff solo over Andy’s steadying piano chords. Beginning with his trademark short phrase/rest pattern, the feeling of exuberance finally catches up with Kossoff and he extends his lines while increasing the speed and intensity of his picking. His dying note is like the vocalization of satisfaction following an orgasm, but he rights himself in a hurry to deliver the main chord riff with all-out power while Paul Rodgers shouts from the wings.

The Paul Rodgers who appears in the second rendition of the second verse has GOT THE FEELING, PEOPLE! If there’s one moment when Paul Rodgers crossed the barrier between a damned good lead singer to a great one, it’s right here. Imbuing the blue line “watching every move on her face” with trembling tension, he relaxes his phrasing to conversational level, allowing him to not just sing the words but actually play both the male and female roles in the dialogue. You hear the female skepticism in the rendering of the line, “She said look—uh—what’s your gammmmmmmme.” Feeling those questioning eyes bearing into his horny soul, Rodgers attempts to defend himself, deliberately and lamely: “Baby I said slow—SLOW!—don’t go so fast!” then pleadingly, “Don’t you think that love can last?” The response is the beautifully bemused, dick-shrinking outrage of a woman with no tolerance for bullshit—there’s a definite laugh and a hidden question behind the outrage when Rodgers (playing the broad) spits out the word “LOVE,” as in “That is the lamest fucking pick-up line I’ve ever heard.” You can see her lift her eyes to the heavens now as she shouts “LORD ABOVE,” almost giggling as she sings the goodbye line, “Now you’re trying to trick me in love!” The fade can go on forever as far as I’m concerned . . . like I said, I’ve heard it a billion times, but “All Right Now” is one great piece of rock ‘n’ roll.

Alas and alack, “All Right Now” was also the death knell for Free. Simon Kirke explained how that happened on Songfacts:

It became a bit of an albatross around our necks, I have to say. Even though it elevated Free into the big leagues, it became a bit of an albatross because we couldn’t follow it. It became a huge hit all around the world, only because we wanted to have something that people could dance to, but then, of course, we had to follow it up, and Island Records were desperate for us to follow it up. Really it was just a one-off for us, and when the follow-up to ‘All Right Now’ died a death – it was called “The Stealer” – and the album that followed, Fire and Water, from which ‘All Right Now’ was taken, when that didn’t do very well, we took it to heart and the band broke up. So, in an indirect way, ‘All Right Now’ was not very good for the band, I have to say.

There’s a bit more to the story, of course. Free disbanded for a while due to a conflict between Fraser and Rodgers, reunited, then Fraser left when Paul Kossoff’s addiction rendered him unreliable. After one last album (Heartbreaker), Free split up for good, with Rodgers and Kirke moving on to Bad Company, Fraser to Sharks and Paul Kossoff in limbo until his death from a pulmonary embolism at the age of twenty-five.

So I can understand why my dad felt that “All Right Now” was kind of a tease, as that kind of kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll really wasn’t what Free wanted to do. That follow-up single, “The Stealer” is pretty dull in comparison, completely lacking the bite and excitement of their greatest hit. With their grounding in the blues and their impressive collection of talent, they certainly could have changed direction and fully committed to that kind of rock, but it just wasn’t their bag. The bulk of Fire and Water is the real Free, comfortable with slow to mid-tempo blues-tinged music that they felt suited their talents. They played well, but the kind of music they chose to produce was never going to set the world on fire . . . and except for that one great single, they didn’t.

Still, Fire and Water is a pretty good record with some fabulous performances that didn’t deserve to spend the rest of its temporal existence wasting away in plastic wrap on my father’s immaculately organized shelves.

Nuts to you, dad!

Marianne Faithfull – Broken English – Classic Music Review

Marianne Faithfull’s early fame had little to do with musical talent and lots to do with image and connections. She was everywhere in the 60’s, an essential component of the Swinging London scene, the innocent-looking girl with the long blonde hair languidly offering her bedroom eyes to the cameras. She hung out with Donovan, Dylan and the Maharishi, lent her voice to “Yellow Submarine” (good luck trying to pick her out), and was scandalously attired in nothing but a fur rug when the cops showed up at Keith Richards’ place sniffing for illegal substances. As the decade wore on and the hits stopped coming, she remained in the public eye in part through her work in film and on stage, but most of her press clippings came from her status as Mick Jagger’s main squeeze (after dumping her relatively new hubby and grabbing the kid on her way out the door). During this period, she co-wrote “Sister Morphine” and served as inspiration for a few Jagger-Richards compositions, receiving a heroin addiction in return. After leaving Mick, he went on to pursue other broads with more promising futures while she lost custody of her son, tried to commit suicide and wound up living on the streets of Soho, a former media darling reduced to a washed-up junkie.

During her period of homelessness, she breathed in more than her fair share of carbon monoxide from cars, buses and cigarettes, magically transforming her fairytale princess voice into that of the fairytale frog. After one attempt at a comeback that failed to make it out of the studio, she released a modestly-successful country album, leaving the critics to debate whether her new voice qualified as “whisky-soaked” or “vulgarized.” By the second half of the 70’s, she had graduated from the streets to an electricity-free and waterless squat she shared with future hubby and aspiring punk musician Ben Brierley, then shared flats with fellow muse and hedonist Henrietta Moraes. Her climb out of the gutter was nearing the end when she hired a gent named Barry Reynolds to serve in her backing band. Together they co-wrote and demoed a couple of songs that caught the attention of Chris Blackwell of Island Records, who signed the lost child of the 60’s to a recording contract.

Marianne Faithfull recently released her 21st studio album, a total that doesn’t include some of her 60’s albums released in the U.K. Most of her albums have been ignored by fans and critics alike, but every few years she does something that lifts her out of purgatory and back into the limelight. Broken English was the first of those somethings, a daring album from a woman who had little to lose by pushing the envelope. As opposed to the material that dominated her 60’s records—soft, romantic folk-tinged music designed to reinforce the fairytale princess image—Broken English gave us an edgier Marianne delving into topics such as terrorism, suicidal ideation, guilt and cock-sucking as the ultimate act of betrayal. Her now raspy voice may have surprised listeners at first, but having a sandpapery voice certainly hadn’t presented an obstacle for Janis Joplin, Suzi Quatro or Stevie Nicks, and it worked well with the darker subjects she chose to explore. Marianne’s vocals on Broken English are stronger and more deeply felt than anything she’d done before. The voice on “As Tears Go By” and “Summer Nights” has an airy, surreal quality; the voice on Broken English is as real as it gets. Her performance is commanding without crossing the line into overbearing, evidence of her earlier theatrical training. Mark Mundy’s production is suitably restrained, giving Marianne lots of room to maneuver through the various roles demanded by the songlist.

Though she labels herself on her highly sanitized website as a singer-songwriter, the vast majority of her work has been devoted to covering other people’s songs. On Broken English, she earned co-writer credit for three songs written in collaboration with band members. Barry Reynolds, guitarist Joe Mavety and Ben Brierley each contributed one song; the other two came from John Lennon and Shel Silverstein. The collaboratively-written title track opens the album, the synth and bass-heavy beat tuned to contemporary tastes. The song is allegedly about Ulrike Meinhof of Baader-Meinhof fame, though had I not told you that, you’d never have been able to deduce it from the lyrics. The song takes the form of a one-way conversation where the narrator essentially asks, “What the fuck are you doing?” It’s a question that could have been posed to any member of the IRA, the Symbionese Liberation Army, The Red Brigade, The Weather Underground, or any of the other criminal organizations of the era who posed as freedom fighters and defenders of the people but were really just psychopaths in face masks:

Could have come through anytime
Cold lonely, puritan
What are you fighting for?
It’s not my security

It’s just an old war
Not even a cold war

“Puritan” works as well as “psychopath,” for these people used ideological purity as justification for their murderous and ultimately pointless acts. Marianne’s phrasing here is direct and to-the-point, tinged with hints of grief over those who lost their lives for nothing much, a mindless crusade of violence that had zero chance of achieving its stated ends.

Darkness gives way to a nice easy beat and the sound of acoustic guitar fronting the bass and synth in the opening to “Witches’ Song,” another collaborative songwriting effort. The song is sort of an anthem for witches, describing how they form the magic circle to contain sacred energy in order to enhance their meditations and provide magical protection. It also covers the duotheistic orientation of Wicca, which gives practitioners a different perspective on good vs. evil:

Father, we are waiting for you to appear
Do you feel the panic, can you see the fear?
Mother, we are waiting for you to give consent
If there’s to be a marriage, we need contempt

Though it comes across as musically pleasant, the ancient stigma attached to witchcraft gives the song a dark cast that fits nicely with the album’s themes.

“Brain Drain” describes the energy-sapping experience of living with someone who wants more and more but instead of doing anything to help just whines and moans away. The more practical and optimistic narrator tries their best, but there isn’t a whole hell of a lot you can do with a whiny moaner:

Got so much to offer, but I can’t pay the rent
I can’t buy you roses ’cause the money’s all spent

Well, you sat in my car, you drank my champagne
You stole all my silk but you gave me no change
You’re a brain drain, you go on and on like a bloodstain
You’re a drain brain, you go on and on like a bloodstain

The loping music is based on a nice, swaying beat, and Marianne completely immerses herself in the groove, her lazy phrasing and pronunciation a perfect fit for the subject matter.

The opening lines of “Guilt” clearly identify solo songwriter Barry Reynolds as a recovering Catholic:

I feel guilt, I feel guilt,
Though I know I’ve done no wrong I feel guilt.

After a superfluous synth burst, Marianne delivers the first verse in near-empty space, accompanied only by faint acoustic guitar and a synthesized drone in deep background. The music slowly intensifies as the verse proceeds, particularly as the lyrics change from “I feel guilt” to the more-to-the-point “I feel bad.” The entire point of a laying a guilt trip on someone is to make them feel bad, defective and weak so that they turn to the source of the guilt for help, be it an abusive partner or the church. It’s the ultimate mind-fuck, and human beings have been pulling it off for centuries, twisting purely natural impulses into evidence of evil intent:

I never gave to the rich, I never stole from the poor,
I’m like a curious child, give me more,
More, more, more, more, more, more.

There’s an interesting change to that first line when the verse reappears later in the song: “I never stole from the poor” becomes “I never gave to the poor.” I interpret the first version as the human tendency to lie about things other people are likely to condemn them for, and the second version the honest truth. In our presentation-oriented world, people lie about all kinds of guilty pleasures from smoking to eating to drug use. Given her history, Marianne was an expert at the game, and here she delivers a grim yet impassioned performance about getting trapped in the guilt cycle.

Shel Silverstein is near and dear to my heart because my parents read me his children’s books when I was little. I still have a copy of The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which I’ll pull out every now and then to remind myself that it’s okay to be different and even better to change and grow. Marianne chose his “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” because she identified with the anti-heroine’s descent into mental instability, and that identification comes through clearly in her empathetic and impassioned interpretation. Trapped alone in the burbs while daddy goes to work and the kids go to school, Lucy suffers through the indentured servitude of housewifery by singing “Pretty nursery rhymes she’d memorized/In her Daddy’s easy chair.” At the age of thirty-seven (I suppose such women were erroneously considered past their prime back in the day), she has bitterly accepted she will never live her film-inspired dream:

At the age of thirty-seven
She realized she’d never ride
Through Paris in a sports car
With the warm wind in her hair

I guess no one told Lucy that the gendarmes clear the streets to make such scenes possible, but even if she’d known that, the power of the image would not have been diminished. The image is so strong that when she is helped off the roof by the man in the white coat and taken to a mental hospital, she convinces herself she has finally made it to Paris, riding in a sports car, the warm wind in her hair. I have no problems with Marianne’s performance here, but I wish they’d shelled out a few bucks for a proper string quartet.

Band member Joe Mavety gives Marianne the chance to sing about life as a drug user in his composition, “What’s the Hurry?” The arrangement is similar to “Broken English,” combining synth with pulsating bass at a slightly faster tempo and a teeny bit more edge before shifting to something closer to rock. The lyrics qualify as opaque, but successfully describe the instinctual reactions and distorted lens of the paranoid drug user. Marianne’s tone here is something between impatience and disgust, as if she couldn’t wait to move on to the next song and leave all that shit behind her.

That next song is one of John Lennon’s greatest solo contributions, “Working Class Hero.” Rather than acoustic guitar, we’re greeted with an ominous bass pattern from Steve York (who is excellent throughout the album), giving the song a menacing flavor. Over the course of the vocal, Marianne shifts from singing to narrating to spitting out the words, maximizing every bit of the subtext of the song. The chorus is punctuated by a treble-heavy guitar chord that feels almost frightening as it bursts from the dark background. Her handling of the line “But you really can’t function, you’re so full of fear” is uniquely feminine, a half-whisper that conveys compassion and understanding, strengthened by a brief echo at the end of the line. And I love how she dispenses with Lennon’s horrible last line, “If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me.” Marianne Faithfull’s version of “Working Class Hero” is an interpretive masterpiece, easily one of the best covers of any Beatle/ex-Beatle songs ever.

Broken English is an album that builds in intensity, and the album closer is absolutely fucking explosive. I’d ask you to pardon my language, but you know I wouldn’t do that, and anyway, Marianne uses words that are much naughtier than that single f-bomb in “Why’d Ya Do It.” The backstory is that Marianne had to beg songwriter (and playwright) Heathcote Williams to let her have the song, as he was intent on having Tina Turner record it. While I fully agree that Tina Turner would have given us a ripping and heartfelt rendition, Marianne’s argument to Mr. Williams that there was no fucking way that Tina Turner would ever sing such a raw, uncensored piece of musical literature was 100% correct.

“Why’d Ya Do It” establishes itself as a hard rocker with the distorted opening riff, leading to a three-chord pattern that serves as backing for Marianne’s largely spoken word vocal. She has claimed that the song is an early version of rap, to which I say, well, okay, if you feel you have to go there to remain relevant, whatever. To me it’s a performance piece of the highest order where Marianne plays a double-edged role: the narrator of the song is a man relating what one of his female lovers said to him when she found out he was sticking it to another broad. It’s pretty obvious that Marianne directs most of her energy and empathy to the woman’s side of the story, spewing out the words like poison-tipped bullets:

Why’d ya do it, she said, why’d you let her suck your cock?
Oh, do me a favor, don’t put me in the dark
Why’d ya do it, she said, they’re mine, all your jewels
You just tied me to the mast of the ship of fools

Why’d ya do it, she said, when you know it makes me sore
‘Cause she had cobwebs up her fanny and I believe in giving to the poor
Why’d ya do it, she said, why’d you spit on my snatch?
Are we out of love now, is this just a bad patch?

Why’d ya do it, she screamed, after all we’ve said
Every time I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed

Marianne doesn’t just perform here, she revels in the freedom of unfettered expression granted by the ultimate act of betrayal. It’s not a song I “like,” but it’s a song I respect because hearing about the wrath of a woman scorned is one thing but “Why’d Ya Do It?” turns that trite phrase into something live, personal and very, very real.

Marianne’s first comeback was somewhat short-lived, as she wound up at Hazelden for treatment in 1985. Her life chart reads like an unstable stock market, booming and crashing at unpredictable intervals as she battles addiction, health problems and occasional legal troubles. Despite all the noise in her life, she has persisted, and Broken English was the first solid evidence that despite all her difficulties, Marianne Faithfull wasn’t about to give in and give up.

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